We recently moved our family from Utah to Washington state. It was a huge move for us. We'd always lived within twenty miles of where my husband was born and raised. I spent most of my life in Utah Valley, as well. Packing up everything and shifting 800 miles away was difficult in ways I never imagined. The last walk-through of our house almost made me back out. Seeing every room empty slammed home the reality of what we were doing. I'm glad we made the move, though. It's been good for our family.
What do I miss most about Utah? The mountains. They range from high pine forests on the slopes to aspen groves to bare rocky desert peaks. Goblin Valley, Arches, and Zion have some very unique red-rock formations and cliffs which make spectacular scenery. The northern mountains are rich in minerals and host world-class ski resorts. But that's not what I miss about the mountains. No matter where we went on a trip, once we crossed the passes into Utah Valley and saw Mount Timpanogas in the distance, I knew we were almost home. It was my landmark, my lodestone.
I know Washington state has mountains, they're just not visible where we live. We have lots of rolling hills and other neat features, but no huge mountains rising up from the valley with houses along their base like a fringe of waves washing up against them.
Utah is a unique place to live. I'm coming to appreciate that more now that we no longer live there. Utah's culture is very deeply influenced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, usually referred to as Mormons. The headquarters of the church are in Salt Lake City. A heavy percentage of the population are members. Utahns value families and children.
Family interest extends beyond the immediate family of children and parents and silblings. Mormons believe in finding out where they came from, tracing their ancestry. Knowing where you came from, finding your roots, grounds you. It brings strength to know who you are and how you fit in the larger family of humans. If you want to start searching for your family tree, try it out on http://www.ancestry.com/ The importance of searching for your family is part of what makes Utah unique.
It's a huge theme in writing, especially epic fantasy stories. How many of them start with an orphan who doesn't know his past? The quest to discover that is a major part of the story. I'm currently working on an epic fantasy story where the main character knows who she is and her parents are very much alive. It creates a different dynamic. She has a home, a center, and that changes how she reacts to the events that push her beyond into unknown territory.
Moving has made me think about what makes somewhere home. Familiarity is a big part, but so is the family. My home is no longer Utah. Driving down the freeway and seeing Mount Timpanogas in the distance still brings warm fuzzy feelings, but it is no longer my marker, my lodestone to guide me home. I have a new guidepost, and a new home. Family defines that home, wherever they may be.
Jaleta Clegg writes science fiction adventures, epic fantasy, and silly horror. She sometimes dabbles in other genres as the mood strikes. Find her work at http://www.jaletac.com
What defines home for you? What landmark do you look for when you are returning from a trip? Post in the comments for a chance to win four free ebooks!
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