One of the things I enjoyed the most about Salt Lake City were the trees. While it’s situated in a desert state and surrounded by desert, SLC has so many beautiful trees in bloom this time of year or just beginning to bud.
Once in J and E’s neighborhood, it’s easy to forget the nightmare of trying to find it through a string of freeways that look like gummy spaghetti thrown down violently on a map.
There are strange corners in Salt Lake City. Not bad neighborhoods, necessarily, but strange and creepy exits that lead to nowhere and have NO WAY OUT.
J and E live on Capital Hill in the Marmalade District at the “dodgy” end and the hill itself is like a giant wall enclosing it all. There are houses looking down on you that appear to have a slightly hostile stare. Also on that hill is Fort Douglas, an old army base that was built to look over the city and keep an eye on the Mormons back when they were restless to separate from the rest of the country.
Like the history of all human beings, Mormon history is full of dark deeds, illicit fornication, and scandal. There is no history involving humans without bloodshed or creepy sex. Doesn’t matter what religion you belong to or if you have no religion at all. Where humans go, so goes the whole neighborhood. Says the birds who click their tongues in disgust as we savage each other and desecrate the planet… but wait – back to sex!
The legend of J and E’s house might not be true but we enjoyed believing it and considering how many wives the dude supposedly had, the chances that one of them was housed where we stayed isn’t all that outrageous.
Luna and Bender are J and E’s rescue dogs and we had such a good time hanging out with those looney-tune dogs. Such sweeties. You know what I love about dogs? They don’t give a shit who you have sex with or what you do for a living and they really couldn’t be bothered to worry over how Jesus does or doesn’t fit into your life, as long as you are kind to them and feed them and play with them. They don’t care if you have both boobs and a penis or if you had to get a leg amputated to save your life or if you were born with no hair.
You can tell most Mormons from non-Mormons even if they’re wearing modern clothes. They have a quality. They have a je-ne-sais-quoi. It’s the same way you can tell I’m a Californian and that I’m liberal.
Maybe it’s my make-up or my Keen’s that give the show away. Maybe it’s my nose ring and my messenger bag. Probably it’s a combination of factors. Then I open my mouth and give the whole show away to those who haven’t guessed it yet. So yes, you really can spot Mormons in a crowd most of the time. And it’s fun. And I feel a little twinge of guilt saying that and feeling that because Mormons are not a side show. Mormons are not in a zoo. They are not living their life to amuse me.
I have been stared at and pointed to all my life. When people clearly express derision or hatred it hurts me or angers me. But the truth is that if you live and dress differently than the majority of the people around you, they will be curious about you and they will stare. Often it’s simply because you’re interesting and it’s enjoyable to see new and different things and people around us. Sometimes they stare because you’re like a strange dream they had once when they took too much Vicodin and there you are in front of them in all your vibrant weirdness like a flashback. Human curiosity is a beautiful thing. It keeps us asking questions, looking for fresh inspiration, for new horizons, for deeper understanding of our fellow beings.
So what I’m saying is that traveling to Salt Lake City and seeing lots of Mormons is just as interesting to me as hanging out in Paris to watch the parade of French fashion and culture drift past me or as cool as it was to hang out in Old Jerusalem and see the train of medieval looking Christian nuns pass solemnly by after the group of Muslim tourists stopped to get refreshments near our table. People watching is one of my favorite things to do and comes from a place of clean curiosity.
So I sat in Temple square watching the crowds walk pass by, picking out the Mormons from the non- Mormons, enjoying the gorgeous trees, the Gothic architecture, and thinking about all the things that bind humans together across belief systems, race, origin, politics, and personal tastes. Salt Lake City is a strange mix of progressive and conservative politics and lifestyles. There’s a lot of opportunity to witness people attempting to find where the middle is between extremes.
Bender doesn’t have time to think about how religion and politics mix and – well – should never mix. He’s a dog with a ball. The ball may as well be Jesus as far as he’s concerned.
Luna was skittish around Max the first day of our visit. Bender loved him at once. This is Luna the second morning we stayed with her after she decided Max is awesome.
J and E are incredible hosts. They always have such wonderful homes – their decorating is warm and full of art and J’s handmade furniture. We always feel at home hanging out with them.
Philip relaxing in the morning before we head out for a walk to down town with Max to get lunch and see what there is to see.
I clearly need more succulents in my life. I also need to spend a little more time arranging my space so that it’s inviting and inspiring and pretty. This is something I can work on until I have to get a day job again. Today I’m going to work on Winters Apothecary and procuring some needed supplies so I can make more products for the shop while Philip works on making my labels better. So much to do!