Work today consisted of my boss wanting to argue about how the pedestrian walkways at the Gateway complex in Salt Lake have been overrun by cars. I’ve been there only once, and it wasn’t full of cars, but she was itching for a fight. I was kind of glad when the time came for me to leave and pick up my wife’s nephew, who was arriving from Idaho.
After I dropped him off, I had to run some errands. I loaded up the van with an old chair, some old cardboard, and a few bags of yard debris, and headed for the solid-waste transfer station west of Springville. On the way south out of Provo, traffic was horrible, and a bald man in a dirty white pick-up cut me off. Scrawled on the tailgate in what looked like gray paint were the words “I HAVE CANCER AND OBAMA SCARES ME.” I have absolutely no idea what that means.
As I approached the Springville exit, I passed one of those signs made of vertical slats that rotate and thus change the sign. At first it was advertising some LDS-themed DVD, and then it abruptly switched to an ad for “Rebel Bail Bonds.” Priceless.
The transfer station was winding down for the day, and the woman at the gate directed me toward the first bay, where some tacky lamps and a faded blue child’s swimming pool lay in the sludge. I carefully stepped across to the only dry patch of dirt and unloaded the van. Slowly we are making our way through the boxes we still haven’t unpacked from Texas, so it feels like we’re settling in.
On the way home, I stopped for laundry detergent at Wal-Mart, where several rather animated teenaged girls were waving signs for the “Helaman Academy.” I think I blurted out, “You have got to be kidding” without thinking. But really. Like I’m actually going to give money to one of these hyper-Mormon, right-wing private schools. I felt kind of bad for them, as they were shivering in the wind from an approaching cold front. But not bad enough to give them some money.
After depositing a couple of dirty rugs in an industrial-sized washing machine at the Laundry on Ninth in Provo, I drove to Albertsons for some cold medicine and fiber (thanks to Bolivia, my digestive system doesn’t work too well) and then on to Blockbuster. The streets are crowded because it’s BYU Homecoming, and a ton of people were going into the Marriott Center as I passed, presumably for the “Spectacular,” which I’ve never found all that spectacular, but that’s just me.
The Creamery on Ninth was crowded with elderly folks and students, the line for the ice cream counter snaking around up past the registers. A middle-aged woman stood in the middle of an aisle, pondering a carton of BYU Creamery ice cream intently. I bought my kids some Drumsticks and headed out the door, just then realizing that my “North Texas Mean Green” sweatshirt and pants were splashed with plaster from patching the drywall in the downstairs bathroom. With the dirt from the dump, I must have looked a sight. But I am clean-shaven with short hair, so I didn’t look too out of place.
But most of the time I feel out of place here. It’s very strange living in a place that is so familiar, but as an unbeliever, I’ll never quite fit in here. But that’s OK. I like it anywhere.