Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The State of the Desolate

Mormons call Utah  "The State of the Deseret," but "desolate" seems a more fitting description. I've lived in hot places before, so it's not jut the heat, although there is heat with which to contend. I can't even say that the place as a whole is ugly, with the Wasatch Range of the Rockies, and the colorful rock formations in the southernmost points of the state.  Still, there are parts of Utah, namely the parts of south-central portion, especially Sevier and Sanpete counties, that give hellish communities such as Trona, California, Rigby, Idaho,  and Friona, Texas, a run for their money in terms of sheer ugliness.

I'm in Salt lake City right now, which is neither the ugliest nor the most beautiful location in the state.  It's a much more cosmopolitan city than it is supposed to be by many. True, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints maintains its headquarters there, and certainly influences the architecture and the physical character of the city. On the other hand, . Salt Lake City proper is only about forty-five per cent Mormon.  (The immediately surrounding suburbs in Salt Lake County are much more highly concentrated in Mormons.)
Salt Lake City is home to the University of Utah, which is LDS-sponsored BYU's chief rival in athletics and in all other matters.  Despite the LDS church's history  in developing the city, Salt lake City is by far the most diverse large city in Utah.

The partof the city where I am at the moment is right in the heart of Mormondom. I'mat the moment  in a church-owned apartment where my grandparents sometimes live. They also maintain a home in Utah County, as well  as one in Florida, but right now my grandmother needs to be in Salt Lake City because that's where her doctors practice. My grandmother has been battling a particularly stubborn lung infection. She's receiving excellent care and is holding her own, but has been battling this thing for months and progress has been slow.
We're visiting because my grandmother is sick, but also because she is my dad's mom, and visiting her from time to time is the right thing to do.

This may sound cold and unfeeling, but were the situation shifted so that it was my dad's father battling a serious illness, I  would not visit unless forced to do so. My grandfather has held an open dislike for me since I was two years old. He blames me for situations that even my parents, who are likewise quick to blame me for just about anything under the sun, insist cannot possibly be my fault.  I don't waste energy hating my grandfather. I just don't give him a lot of thought, period.  It's hard to avoid thinking of him right now, though, because he is sitting in his recliner, directly across the living  room from me, glaring at me as I type.  Only God knows precisely what I may have done to offend him on this particular occasion.

We came here for a catered dinner with my grandparents. We're spending the night in a hotel not far from here. We'll be back tomorrow, although my grandfather will be too busy with church business to spend time with us.   We brought our portable musical instruments (the grand pianos stayed home; my grandmother has a very nice grand piano of her own that we can use) along with us. My grandmother's genealogical line was presumably that which contributed most dominantly to the genetic aspect of my father's musical ability  although practice, too, contributed to his success in that area. What my grandmother wants most from my family is for us to make music for her. Tomorrow we will spend a large part of the day playing and singing for her. She may have invite a small group of friends in to hear us as well.

Though my grandfather finds it difficult even to be in the same room with me, my grandmother has nothing in particular against me, so I'm happy to endure being in this armpit of a state in order to make these days of illness for her a little brighter. Someday, in my old age, perhaps my younger family member will do something similar for me. Then again, my grandchildren may turn out to be tone-deaf.

1 comment:

  1. Alexis--

    I've heard Utah is generally nice looking, though I can't boast being any farther west than Ohio. I'm sure like most states go, it has its good qualities and bad qualities. I joke that Pennsylvania could do better. with Harrisburg. We have Pitt and Philly on the ends... Harrisburg should be the crown jewel. But, it’s not.

    Good luck with your grandparents. It’s always a shame when people make things complicated when they don’t have to be. I hope your grandmother’s lung infection resolves soon.