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The bitter complaints of a cranky young man

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It's personal anecdote time here at UoM, inspired by a comment made on T&S's "Utah(ish) Non-Mormons" thread.

I was born in Utah, but grew up in Idaho (or, "Little Utah"). I hated it. I still hate it. Every time I go back there, for Christmases and whatnot, I am reminded just how much I dislike Boise--and Boise is the best Southern Idaho can offer. I can unequivocally say that the best decision I ever made was to go to a college 1600 miles away. When I find other people who are/were from Idaho, my response is, "I'm sorry." And I mean it.

I could go on, but I think my contempt is clear.

Idaho itself--the land--is gorgeous. The climate is quite good, with low humidity and semi-desert; by comparison, spring in the midwest is oppressively green and damn near unbearable without a fan. (Though, after five years, I'm finally getting used to the humidity.) Cour d'Laine is quite possible the most perfect place on the planet.

I know some great people in Idaho: my immediate family still lives there, a few high school friends, family friends. I've had some good nacle interaction with a few from there: persons like Laura and fmhLisa seem to be stand-up people.

But the people! The culture! My god, the culture! Nate Oman says this in his original post: "...all conversations about religion or Mormonism were tainted by the siege mentality of the Utah non-Mormons and Mormon defensiveness at the implicit accusation of oppression."

I've never heard a better way of describing my high school years.

On of the big problems I have with the culture of Utah/Idaho is the lack of a "center." The Church--especially when it is politically powerful--is such a polarizing force that it (more or less) forces everyone into two camps. This is why everyone at a bar in Boise smokes.

This effected me a fair bit because: (1) my "formative years" were spent dealing it, and (2) I was trying to maintain a center position. I wasn't good enough (that is, Mormon) to be with the good kids [though I did take seminary and most my friends were LDS] and wasn't "bad" enough to be with the "bad kids." (That is, I didn't care about partying, drinking, etc.)

So, yeah, I'm fairly bitter about it, but it is what made me who I am, so who am I to complain? I can say, though, that it would take something drastic (family emergency, lucrative job offer) for me to move back there. It would take something even more drastic for me to raise children there. (Idaho: Not Good for Children or Other Living Things)

Anyway, this is all to say that I agree with a comment made by Seth R. (comment 13):

However, I think it’s important to remind everyone that it’s only those who are familiar with Mormonism that fear it. Those who aren’t familiar with it either dismiss it as “some fringe religion” or are unaware of it entirely. It’s those who have gotten to know us who are threatened by us.

So true! And might I add, that we--the non-mormons--should be. I'm not sure what the implications for future Church actions are, but I don't think it's particularly rosy.

9 Responses to “The bitter complaints of a cranky young man”

  1. Anonymous Ben S. 

    "The climate is quite good, with low humidity and semi-desert; by comparison, spring in the midwest is oppressively green and damn near unbearable without a fan."

    I spent a year in Pocatello when I was 4 or so, and I've been back to Idaho (and Utah) enough to disagree vehemently. Give me the oppressive greenery of MN any day over the barren godforsaken deseret. I mean desert ;)

    Good idea to get out.

  2. Anonymous Laura 

    I like Idaho. But, I can see why you would want out.

    I grew up in the midwest and love it, but the winters are so bitter and the summers are so humid and hot and it's so flat. I prefer the mountains.

  3. Anonymous skl 

    I grew up in Northern Idaho where the country is beautiful and mormonism is a non-issue. There aren't very many Mormons and it is pretty much like everywhere else in the country. (There were 4 mormons in my graduating class--granted there were only about 100 graduates altogether, but still...). I have lived in Indiana, DC and currently Boston. Northern Idaho is pretty much like anywhere else. But it is true that Southern and Central Idaho are a different story. I agree that Utah is unbearable. Having attended college there I am certain I could never move back. But please don't lump Northern Idaho in - it just doesn't fit. It is beautiful and there aren't a lot of Mormons up there.

  4. Anonymous annegb 

    I'm not as unhappy to be living in the center of Mormonism as you are, but I relate to the "not being good enough for the good kids" and "not being bad enough for the bad kids." My daughter, I think, has struggled with this a little. I guess she would have to speak for her experience.

    Yeah, that is something that bothers me. Saddens me for what my kids may have gone through. I wish my older kids had the same mother my baby girl did, because although she may have struggled, we constantly validated her and supported her. We rather benignly believed in her right to choose and trusted her.

    When we were younger (and cared more), we were our childrens' worst enemies in forcing them to conform to Mormonism. Our actions, I believe, turned our children from God as well as Mormonism. I think they could have made it through a lot of societal pressure had we been kinder parents.

    Does that resonate with you at all? If it does, I am so sorry. So sorry that you went through that.

  5. Anonymous Pris 

    Anne: Luckily, what I describe was only in the "public" sphere. My parents are amazing and were supportive of (most of) my choices even when they didn't agree with them. If I didn't have that, things would have been much worse.

    SKL: Fair enough. I often joke that if you're from Idaho you're either a Mormon or a nazi... But really, I loved Northern Idaho and it is a different beast up there. Though, I'd probably live in Washington instead because some of the Idaho laws are, well...

    Ben/Laura: I love the desert, probably because that's what I grew up with. But I also love the cold--a high of 45-50 degrees is perfect. Could do without the snow, though. And yes, the Mountains are much better than the plains. And southwestern Idaho is better than eastern Idaho. Don't know why anyone would want to live there.

  6. Anonymous Starfoxy 

    "a high of 45-50 degrees is perfect"
    You are crazy. If you're going to live in the desert at least live where it is warm. A low of 45-50 is nippy. A high of 45-50 is torture.

  7. Anonymous Arwyn 

    My feelings about Alabama are very similar to yours about Idaho, Pris, except I have no appreciation whatsoever for the land or the climate. I think being Mormon (and intellectual) in Alabama had the same effect of indicing feelings of outsiderness that being non-Mormon does in Utah and Idaho.

    Luckily, however, it's not so incredibly polarized down there, and it's possible to be neither fish nor meat (as the Russians say). I've never lived long enough in Mormon country to experience that. We moved out of Utah when I was two, praises be.

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