When I was young, I thought I wanted big city life. I was 10 when my family left San Jose for Utah, and I fondly remember the few trips my mom had made with us to San Francisco, and Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown are still vague, nostalgic memories. When I was young I had my mom’s desire to be shopping all the time. Then after moving to the suburbs of a small-ish town in “Happy Valley” Utah where “everyone” was Mormon (me and my mom became ones too), I felt isolated, unable to go to the art house movies I wanted to see or to find some of the alternative books I wanted to read, or even go to concerts (wasn’t into the squeaky clean acts that were allowed to play at neighboring BYU). These were the days before the internet. I dreamed of living in the “big” city of Salt Lake.
I did make it to Salt Lake City after high school in the late ’80’s, and lived where I wanted to close to downtown and the historic “Avenues”. I became a cult movie connoisseur with weekly showings of Rocky Horror in the basement cinema called the Blue Mouse and becoming exposed to Alejandro Jodorowsky with Santa Sangre at Cinema In Your Face. I was able to get Anais Nin’s books from the library (not just the cheap porn compilations she wrote to get by, ironically her only books available in Happy Valley bookstores). I went to concerts in seedy clubs and small outdoor venues. I lived simply, without a lot of belongings because I wanted to enjoy my interests and I wanted to learn but still be financially secure (my father paid for my housing and tuition while I attended college, but I made sure everything else I could afford with my jobs). I disliked the suburbs and preferred the uniqueness of the downtown Salt Lake City area. I had a black and white TV, that I didn’t watch much, and did not own a car. I loved public transportation and our local community radio with volunteer djs that played their own music. I guess you could say I was a gothic hippie.
Then something happened. A high school friend, who also dreamed of living in big cities, asked me to move with her to southern California. Her aunt lived there and she was going to live with her aunt and family at first, and if I came down we would be able to afford a place together. I had savings, so I moved, we got a tiny apartment in an old San Clemente hotel, and after a job with a failed business I eventually landed a secretary job in Laguna Beach–the haven for GLBT and artists alike in conservative Orange County. I loved the quaintness of the buildings in both downtown San Clemente and in Laguna Beach, but I still felt isolated like I did during my junior high and high school years in Utah County. All the concerts I wanted to see were in Los Angeles at big venues (went to a few and was quite disapointed), and there were no cult theaters. Reading and writing were my outlet. Occasionally we’d go to San Diego, Knotts Berry Farm or Disneyland to escape our mundane every day lives. I also went back to Mormonism because my friend was a devout Mormon, which did not allow me to grow or find myself, as I was trying too hard to be a good Mormon girl but still was a free thinker. All my friends were Mormon, which left me with no one but pen pals and my journal to express my real thoughts. We later moved to a big apartment complex further north in Orange County, but pretty much the same experience, and the LA Riots seemed to spark something in us. We didn’t want to be there. For me, driving for hours on end and NOT leaving any city was too much. It just seems unnatural, even today, especially that suburbia is just growing and growing. When the LA Riots started, the only thing on network TV was coverage of the riots (no, I still did not have cable TV then), except for on PBS. They continued their regular programming, which included an hour long documentary on families living in the Alaskan bush/outback. Even though self sufficiency and disaster preparation was one of the teaching of the Mormons, this whole concept of living simply and off the land was new to me. I fell in love with the concept. I wanted to move to Alaska and be like them.
From my profile, you know that I am not in Alaska, and over 20 years later I am still not living the simple life. I did lose that dream for a while, but it is back and I have been making baby steps to actually make simple living a reality, and this blog will be about all aspects of that journey, along with my past journeys. It will range from stream of conscious posts about random thoughts, my favorite recipes, my chickens: my thoughts, ideas, and favorite things. Basically an outlet to help me (hopefully) regain the rest of my sanity.
Final thought for now. If I ever live alone again, I want to live small–inspired by Tiny: A Story About Living Small, although I want to go small, not quite TINY. But reminded me once again of that Alaskan documentary and my desire to live simple.
cabin photo credit: bestviewedlarge via photopin cc