I am sitting in a restaurant with friends one evening eating some really good pizza, some really, really good pizza. I face the open door watching the comings and goings of everyone on the street. I watch the sky changing colors above the rooftops as the sunset comes and goes. The cars honking and rushing past. The couple next to us signing their lively conversation. The cyclist leaning her bike against the wide open door and looking for acknowledgement that someone will help her keep an eye on it. I'm paying attention to the dinner conversation but am so very aware of life moving all around me at top speed. I take a bite of perfectly crunchy crust with spicy tomato sauce and other assorted toppings, and it hits me. I am just a girl from Paradise, Utah who lives here in this city.
It hits me quite frequently that I live in this city. I often miss the mountains. I see photos on Instagram and Facebook from people who live in my hometown and there is a tugging of my heartstrings to go back. Sometimes this city begs the question: How does anyone leave Paradise to live here in this city?
But there is a lot to love here, and it feels like home now. Sure, I could do all these things I do here someplace else where the view out my bedroom windows didn't overlook someone else's backyard, but I would miss out on some pretty great (and not so great) experiences. And, oh, this city...
This city where all in one day I see the Capitol dome or the Basilica at Catholic University rising in the distance. I spend an afternoon basking in the beauty and history of a museum or two. I find a garden sanctuary and soak in the greenness. I meet up with friends for dinner. I attend a musical or theatrical event.
This city where my country girl roots seek refuge in the garden plots filled with flowers and plants that are just one form of cheap but effective therapy.
This city where I forget sometimes to look at the sky because of all the trees, and thankfully its skyline is short and majestic without the skyscrapers of other urban centers.
This city where, amazingly, sometimes on a weekend in the early morning light, the only sounds are my feet hitting the pavement and my breathing.
This city where my breath is sometimes grabbed away from me by the smells of humanity and oppressive hot, moist air of summer.
This city that has treated me kindly and not so kindly.
This city where only going the speed limit means you get cussed out and honked at. Where every intersection is an often unwanted concert of different music pouring out of open windows.
This city where I can find a beautiful oasis of peace in a garden, museum, or concert hall. Where sometimes when I'm walking somewhere I hear the most beautiful music pouring out of someone's home as they play a musical instrument or sing.
This city that I have fallen in love with, albeit begrudgingly at times.
This city with some really kind people...
The neighbor across the alley who was on her back porch noticed me coming down the back steps. She called across to wish me a good morning and then asked where our dog was, as she missed seeing him out back. When I told her that he died a few weeks ago, she stopped moving and put her hands on her heart and said how sorry she was. She said meet me in the alley, 'cause I'm coming to give you a hug. I had never spoken with her before, but here she came to give me a hug and look me directly in the eyes to tell me how sorry she was about the loss of Josiah.
The next door neighbor who hosts dinner parties on her back patio and spontaneously invites me to join her group when I'm in the backyard. I often do and have a wonderful time.
There is a group of us on our block who garden together. We compare notes and plants, and share our love and knowledge of all things green.
The dogs that come up to say hello to me when I’m in my garden. They know who I am and are genuinely pleased to see me; at least that's what their wagging tails tell me. I think I might know more dog names, than people names.
When I’m out for a run and see someone I know who is out for a run too. They often don't mind if I join them for a few blocks.
The young man who sees me struggling up the sidewalk with my arms full and offers to help before I lose everything.
Arriving home late one afternoon, after a very long long and stressful weekend of reserve duty, I parked down the street from my house. As I very tiredly walked home wearing my working uniform, a few of the older gentleman came down from their porches to thank me for serving and talk with me about their own service. They even knew which house was mine--the one with the flag and the flowers. "Oh, we've noticed you," they said. Another gentleman on a bicycle sat straight up and saluted as he passed me by.
This city I with which I have, begrudgingly at times, fallen in love. And the life that I have right here, right now in this city.