“I’d have a better chance of finding a boyfriend in church than a bar, but we both know that’s not happening.”
“Well, then, good luck!”
As I stood in line at the grocery story tonight I caught the tail end of a conversation between the checker and the young man bagging my groceries. I finished setting the last 2-liter of Diet Coke on the counter and pushed my card through the check stand.
When I told the checker I did not have a rewards card she asked if I was from out-of-town. When mentioned I’d recently moved from the Seattle area she began nodding her head and pulled two more tellers into the conversation.
“I’ll bet nobody in Seattle cares about religion, right? I mean, isn’t that how it should be?”
All I could do was smile, collect my receipt, and head for the door as everyone within a 15 foot radius was chiming in with their opinions on the difficulty of finding love in Utah as a non-Mormon.
Although I spent the first 26 years of my life in Utah, I’d forgotten how much Mormon influence is woven into the fabric of everyday life here. When I met my daughter’s middle school counselor for the first time, he asked, “So your daughter must be a beehive?” And less than two minutes into my haircut, my barber asked, “What ward are you in?”
“What ward are you in?” in Utah is the same as “How are you doing?” anywhere else.
You’re a Mormon until proven otherwise.
Kim and I both understood this well before we decided to move to St. George. Our children made many friends in Seattle, and few of them were Mormon, yet we seldom thought much about it. Sure, there was the occasional birthday party on Sunday that would bring our beliefs to the forefront when our kids explained to their friends that Sundays were time to spend at church and with family.
As Luca would say, “That’s not fair.”
One of our reasons for returning to Utah was to be closer to friends and family. Our children are able to spend a lot of their days with cousins and grandparents and friends who have similar beliefs. I doubt we’ll have to decline many birthday parties or youth sports because they were scheduled on Sunday.
The kids have already made friends who belong to other religions and we’ll continue to encourage them to that end. I don’t know how it will all turn out. The diversity of Seattle was a major reason we decided to stay there for 16 years. It almost feels like the polar opposite of Utah in terms of religious influence on the culture.
Maybe next time I’m at the grocery store I’ll seek out the same checker I had tonight and tell her about the college wards.
Then again, that might guarantee she remains single or flees the state.