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Published: July 21st 2017
The morning holds a few dark clouds so I purchase a tarp to wrap our extension of suitcases. Although I’m getting a little more practiced in ratcheting together the rear bundle, it’s becoming a definite chore. I wish we had thought a little more carefully about how much luggage was likely to fit into the car. The morning is cool and the air smells slightly of ozone and fresh pine.
We backtrack along 20, still beautiful and traffic is light. We turn south onto I-15 towards Idaho Falls and our eventual destination of Salt Lake City. The drive is pleasant enough, the mountains slide into high desert; the hills on either side brown and irrigated farmland is a stark green contrast in the valleys between them. We cross into Utah and the mountain range to the left of the Salt Lake City valley begins to materialize. The city skyline looks crisp against the backdrop of the peaks. Antonio wants to stop at Temple Square. This is ground zero for Mormon country and I am curious myself. Salt Lake City is set up on a grid with every street numbered and oriented in a way that is designed to let you
know exactly how far away you are from the temple no matter where you are located. We exit at North 900 West and manage to find parking a couple of blocks away. The grounds and the buildings are beautiful. The temple reminds me a little of the Disney castle with all those spires. Everywhere you look are the most incredible flower beds and everything is immaculate. There are beautiful water features including a reflecting pool, fountains and a system of pools that cascade down the gentle slope. Many people are well dressed in suits and ties, or nice dresses. A wedding party takes pictures outside with everyone looking a little uncomfortable in the 90+ degrees. I’m astonished by the church office buildings which are 30 stories high. How can a church have so much business that they require a high-rise? Despite my personal reservations, I enjoy the visit and remain unsmat (yep, that’s the correct past tense and if you don’t believe me look it up for yourself)!
We are staying with friends in Salt Lake City and make our way to their apartment. The reverse ritual of the suitcases begins and I am starting to eye them in
the way one might view heavy items in the proverbial sinking ship. Surely some of them might be expendable.
Dinner that night is a confluence of old friends. It’s strange that we can dine with so many familiar people in an area in which we have never lived. Our dinner party is 14 and we eat delicious Indian food at the Bombay house. The company is wonderful, and we are happy to introduce people who have made an impact in our lives to one another.
After dinner, we take the kids to the park to burn off some energy. Our friend Adriana has two boys, 7 & 11 and they have a wonderful time on the playground with AJ & Gracie. We all chat while the kids play and I am surprised at how comfortable I find Utah. As a gay couple, especially an interracial one with children (one of whom happens to be black); there’s always that concern in the back of our minds about how we might be accepted. This is especially true when we travel, as California for the most part is about as liberal a place as one might hope to find. This fear
persists despite almost never having experienced any overt discrimination first hand. Even as I write this we have ongoing discussions with ourselves, friends and family members about whether our planned route will be safe. I wonder if we will ever get to a point in our lifetimes when that little voice in the back of our minds will quiet? While attitudes are changing for the most part, we are still a long way from universal acceptance. I hope that by representing a healthy and happy family wherever we go we might open some minds and hearts along the way.
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