We sure got off to a pretty bumpy start, didn’t we? In fact, our relationship sort of reminds me of the most romantic film of all time, The Empire Strikes Back. So much animosity. So much anger. I thought you were a tightly wound princess who needed to loosen the reins a little. You thought I was a devil-may-care cad who flounced authority and followed my own rules.
(Okay, so nobody ever thought that about me, and yes it’s weird that I made myself Han Solo in this romantic fantasy of mine. Let’s just move on).
You put me through a lot of crap, Utah. A LOT of crap. But somehow, somewhere along the way, despite all the odds, I fell in love with you.
There were no fireworks. No shooting stars. Once I got past all the bitter animosity, it was just like love is supposed to be. It started out slowly, with me noticing the little things about you, like how beautiful the mountains are with the sunlight right behind them, or the delightfully cool summer night breezes, or heaven help me, even how breathtaking the snow can be on a cold, crisp morning. You gave me the Shakespeare Festival and the Sundance Film Festival and Moab National Park and Mirror Lake. You let me reconnect with some of my favorite old friends and introduced me to some of the kindest, coolest, wonderfully weirdest new pals a gal could have.
You also taught me a lot about myself, Utah. Like any good romance, there came those painful moments where you revealed to me some of my deepest character flaws that would need to be changed for me to find my happy ending. You taught me a lot about me, Utah, and I’ll never forget those lessons, including:
I am more resilient than I ever believed was possible. Sometimes life can throw you curveballs, like getting laid off from the job I uprooted my life and moved here to do, three months to the day after I started working (Yep. You did that, Utah). Thus forcing me work four jobs (some of which I was wildly over-qualified for) to barely make ends meet. Sometimes I felt completely, utterly alone here, doubting myself and my ability to do anything right or to dare hope for the things that I wanted out of life. Man, it hurt. But I survived it. I found ways to laugh through even the worst things. I learned to like myself even through my ickiest, darkest, worst times. And that? That’s something I needed, Utah, more than I ever realized.
Life can’t be lived by playing it safe. It’s all about taking chances. Those chances didn’t always pan out like I hoped they would. Sometimes I crashed and burned—the emotional equivalent of tripping down a flight of stairs in front of my crush, thus revealing my huge Little Mermaid panties—but I don’t regret it. Any of it. Because most of my life, I’ve been too afraid to take risks or put myself out there, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that regret comes not from the making of mistakes, but from the wondering what would have happened, if only.
Approaching life with a terrible attitude is the recipe for unhappiness. I learned here not to judge a book by its cover. Not people, not places, not circumstances. Life has surprised me in wonderful ways when I let it.
And then one day, I realized I loved you, Utah, more than I ever thought was possible. More than I ever thought I could. We both know it’s time for me to move on, but it’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m tossing and turning in my sleep. My appetite fades in and out. I burst into tears for no reason whatsoever. Because I love you, Utah. I didn’t mean to, but I do. No matter what adventures life holds for me, I won’t forget you.
But for now, so long. I won’t say goodbye because that sounds too permanent, and who knows what the future will hold? Maybe someday, years down the road, we’ll bump into each other. Our eyes will meet across the rain-drizzled pavement, and it will be like no time has passed at all. And oh, what a day that will be.
But until then, we’ll always have Café Rio. Here’s looking at you, kid.