After spending my entire life in Los Angeles, California I’ve recently moved to Park City, Utah. It’s a culture shock I never quite expected. And, it’s been revelatory on so many levels.
There are over 18,000,000 people that live in the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles, per the 2010 Census. It is the largest population in the country, behind only New York (the metropolitan area).
The San Fernando Valley alone has nearly 2,000,000 residents. Park City has about 7,800 permanent residents. Salt Lake City has about 191,000, while the ENTIRE state of Utah has a population 2.9 million (per Google, as of 2014).
Hello? What was I thinking?
I LOVE IT.
Getting off the airplane at JFK in New York was an ordeal, though not quite as bad as trying to get around LAX in Los Angeles (which I consider one of the worst airports in the world). It took me over 20 minutes to get to the rental car desk, after getting lost with lousy signage, and then waiting in a short line for the single clerk at the desk.
Navigating to my friend’s home in Greenwich, Connecticut wouldn’t have been too bad had I not hit a rainstorm that made visibility difficult. Nonetheless, about ten+ hours after arriving at the Salt Lake City airport, which is a dream airport compared to JFK or LAX, I arrived thoroughly exhausted at my friend’s home.
I’ve known this friend my entire life. Our families were very close and I adore her and her husband. She moved to New York about three decades ago to both pursue her career and enjoy her love of theatre, ballet, and just about every aspect of New York City. Think Carrie Bradshaw with more class, brains, and looks and you’ve got Kathy.
As she approaches retirement age, she hasn’t slowed down an iota! She goes to something in the city at least once a week, if not more. She knows every little restaurant, every secret to getting tickets to “Hamilton” or its equivalent, and every shortcut everywhere. She revels in the city and only moved to Greenwich as the persistent insistence of her husband so they could raise their girls in a quieter environment and his commute might be tolerable. To quote him, “she went kicking and screaming!”
Moving to Park City was not a careless, impulsive decision. First, we bought a “starter” condo to test our interest and to get to know the area. After two years, we began to look for a potential permanent house. Serendipity intruded an early day in the search and we ended up buying a lot and soon we were building a “cabin,” as the smaller homes in the Promontory development are called.
My wife took CHARGE of most of this process. I was “allowed” to vote on some things though she had the final vote. Happily, her taste is impeccable and my only concern was truly the budget. She sort of stuck to it.
As the house neared completion and we were in and out of escrow on our “old” home in California, the reality of this move began to set in.
What was I doing? Leaving my birth-home, the place where I was raised, where my oldest friends lived, where I discovered and drooled over “Villa Italian” pizza and had my first Tommy’s burger. Excuse me? My boys were born and raised there. There is SNOW in Utah.
Heck, NOBODY lives in Utah!
Today marks the three-month anniversary of our moving here. We are experiencing our first “change of season” as the golf season has ended (at our development), fall has begun, and most of the part-time residents have left. There are about 500 homes in our development with about 80 occupied full time. The amenities and “services” are also seasonal, so the two main restaurants are closed until winter break, and the offered activities are fewer. The gym and pools are still open, as are all the amazing trails for hiking, biking, or just strolling.
The quiet was the single most distinguishing feature of our home when a dear friend visited recently. I both love and dislike it.
A few weeks ago on my visit to New York, I found every detail of the travel and getting around a hassle. My return flight was cancelled and I had to stay overnight at an airport hotel. The streets of New York were unsurprisingly jammed and the energy was palpably high and intense. The people were actually nice, and the food was awesome. We saw three wonderful shows on Broadway and the time spent with my son was quite special.
Nonetheless, I did long to return home. And, when I had those thoughts, my “home” was here in Park City. Time for some coffee…