Janna and I arrived in Salt Lake City yesterday, and have now been in the state of Utah for about 24 hours. And, I’ve already been asked about whether or not I’ve met any members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
And it’s interesting to me, because this is the first place where I’ve been asked if we’ve met any of a specific type of person in a community. In fact, that’s what most of the questions have involved.
Nobody asked us if we met any Jews in Philadelphia, or any Gullahs in Charleston, or any Brits in London, or any yuppies in Asheville (the answer to all of the above is ‘yes’).
Have we met any Mormons in Salt Lake City? Probably. Census data shows that approximately 51% of the population of Salt Lake County is Mormon, with probably less-than-that actively practicing. We’ve interacted with a few dozen folks at coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores so far, and statistically speaking, at least one of them was probably a Mormon.
We were sold coffee and a muffin by a trans woman with a facial piercing today. We shopped at what I’m convinced is the world’s greatest grocery store (it’s like if you took a Central Market, added a Whole Foods, put a Starbucks on top with a full-blown post office, in-house dietitian, and a cooking school). We’ve seen the most beautiful mountain views of our lives (and we just spent the last week in Boulder, Colorado), made friends with Prairie Dogs, had a really good Philly Cheese Steak, and live in a mural-adorned building above a hip Italian restaurant. Tonight we’re going to a professional rugby game.
But have I met a Mormon? I have no idea.
What I do know: nobody has yet tried to convert me. Nobody has brought up their religion.
We’ve gotten more raised eye brows about choosing to spend 5 weeks in Salt Lake City than anywhere else they’ve been – even more than Philadelphia, and for apparently opposite reasons. It’s the first place on our trip for which we have no planned visitors. It’s almost as if people are somehow afraid of the city, or what “those Mormons” might do to them.
If, after 24 hours, I can impart one short thought to you: Salt Lake City is not scary. It’s normal, and if I dare say, based on the Himalayan restaurant next door to where I currently sit, a bit cosmopolitan (the economy is booming, which is bringing in people from all around).
I fear not what Salt Lake City has to offer. Instead, I fear living a life not knowing what the city is really like. And so far, it’s lovely, it’s vibrant, it has theater, and music and mountains and architecture and a lot of great pickleball players. We’re excited to see what more the city has to offer. We’ll be here until May 10th – come see us if you’ve got the time. We promise we won’t take you to the scary parts of town ;-).