I am driving all over the Pacific Northwest this summer. I’m visiting my favorite people. I’m seeing famous landmarks. I’m biking, kayaking, running, and hiking. For some reason, I’ve spent half my time in wheel pose. Few things feel better than leaving Utah—pressing my foot against the gas pedal, getting my little engine up to 80 mph, and getting the heck out of town.
I try to stay optimistic about living in Utah. The mountains are beautiful, and when my schedule and weather allow, I am in them all the time. I love my job. I like teaching and practicing yoga there. When I meet people, and I tell them I am from Oregon, they always respond by saying, “Oregon is so beautiful!” I always respond by saying, “Utah is so beautiful!” Fate (to which I do not particularly ascribe) seems to want me in Utah. I, however, don’t know why. I don’t seem to fit in there.
I try not to emphasize my romantic life so much, but I am dating now, and it’s true that men in Utah don’t really look at me. And, to be fair, I don’t really look at them. The way they dress, the way they wear their hair, their hands—it all looks and feels wrong to me. And, I’m sure I’m doing all kinds of things as a woman that seem wrong to them. I’ve discussed this with friends, who all think it is a “cultural” problem. Utah men are all divorced, or religious, or violently (annoyingly) anti-religious, or too pious, or the opposite and partying way too hard. I’m none of these things.
In the past few years, this has happened several times: I cross the Idaho to Oregon border and suddenly these beautiful men start passing me on the freeway, nodding and smiling. Like, “Welcome back!” Ejc has commented that in the week I spent with her in the Pacific Northwest, I could’ve “gotten a dozen dates.” And, it’s true. So many handsome men have smiled at me, have nodded at me, have said hello, have made conversation. I look at them and think this is what men are supposed to look like. They look at me the same way.
In the Pacific Northwest, people smile and asked me for directions. I feel like I belong. I might look like I belong in Utah, but I feel invisible. And, despite trying for several years, I don’t think I fit in. I’ve come away from the first leg of this trip feeling like I seriously need to examine a few things about my life and where I live and how I am loved.