Utah Valley experiences something called “Inversion.” It has something to do with the Great Salt Lake and pollution. Scientifically, I can’t explain it to you, but imageistically, it looks like you are peering into the distance with a pair of glasses covered in soot. Inversion feels like crunching six or seven flecks of sand between your teeth. Inversion is like bugs on a windshield hiding a really great view.

Yesterday, the rain pelted through the Inversion and pinned the soot to the ground. And so I got to see Utah clearly for the first time in a while.

“Look!” I cried to Jeremy, pointing at the mountains, who’ve had a renaissance of bloom and green, even though it’s late July. “Look how clear!”

Jeremy looked. We have an unspoken rule that if one person directs your attention to something, you pause and appreciate the moment together. “Get a good look,” Jeremy said, nodding. It was a reminder: we’re leaving in two days. These mountains won’t be ours for very much longer.

Sometimes, I look at Utah and let the Metaphorical Inversion hide my view of how amazing this place truly is. I don’t strain past the cloud of dogma to see how wonderful the people are. I remember all too well the tribulation without celebrating the triumphs.  I ignore the green because it’s covered with a slight layer of gray. I forget that “This is the place,” and this place is beautiful.
After Jeremy’s somewhat sobering reminder, I decided I wanted to remember what I sometimes forget. I don’t want my memory of Utah to be the billboards on I-15 or the Point of the Mountain during Dry Season. I want my memory of Utah to be of Utah in full bloom.

So I decided to go for a run. I started at Timpview, because Timpview’s been my most recent home. I ran past memories of my dearest students standing on desks and Captaining me. I ran past character building moments and trials of endurance. I ran past quidditch fields and mountains of books. I ran past happy, and didn’t recall the haze of grading, and stress, and sadness. Timpview still feels like home.

I ran down the hill and breezed past Tucanos. I didn’t think about the way I reeked of meat when I got home. I didn’t think about serving bad sections or not being able to find someone to cover my shift when I had a test to study for. Running past Tucanos, I was reminded of late Friday nights gossiping in the server station, and playing games while peeling potatoes. I remembered making my best friends in Utah. I remembered Garlic Sirloin. Tucanos still feels like home, albeit a distant, pungent one.

And then I ran up the hill to BYU.  I ran past study sessions in the HBLL and late classes in the basement of the JFSB. I ran past enlightenment and learning and cheap tuition. I ran past lunch dates with my gal pals at the MOA. I ran so fast that I wasn’t distracted by feelings of inadequacy or concerns of not fitting it. I saw through the haze and let BYU be a happy memory, even if it doesn’t quite feel like home anymore.
I did one full 8 mile circle. One mile for every year I’ve spent in this place.

And then I came home, my darling little house that snuggles with the mountains and surveys the rest of the valley. There was no inversion today; it became very clear: Utah is home, and there’s no place like it. 

Today I am grateful for all of you that made up what Utah is to me–Bethany and Ryan, Jared and Kristy, Erin and Dave, Christi and Jim, Annie and Russ, Corinne and Emma, Grandma Pat (and Little Cat) and Grandma Vay, Grandpa Tom, Grandma and Grandpa Barfuss,  Andrea and Kevin Barnes (and CO), Bryn and Anthony, Jan and Judi, the Townhall Ward and Slate Canyon Ward, Chloe, Jess, Kelsey, Carrie, and Kristin, Tiffany and Sean, Brooke and Preston, Dana and Dallin,  Michelle and Creighton, Syd and Brandon, Alysse and Chasten, Andrea and Luke, Aubri and Bryan,  Lisa and Will, Kristi and Brock, my Timpview students, Professors Hutch, Walker, Ostenston, Wing, and Grierson, Sugar House Park, Swig, BYU, Timpview, Tucanos, our little basement house with the bookcase secret door at Aspenwood Manor, and our current house on Arizona, and of course, my sweet little Hufflepuff. Leaving you all is the hardest part of saying goodbye.

  1. Jul 24, 2015
    Julia Cropper

    You have given me some of the best memories of my life. You are the best teacher anyone could ask for and I love love love you.