|This is how Jesus would have to fit in the SLC suburbs.|
Salt Lake City is a weird-ass city in many ways, but not just in the ways some of you might expect. Despite what some people think there are bars, pubs, coffee shops and even stores that sell lingerie and sex toys. One of the strangest quirks to me is the fact that the suburbs of Salt Lake City are largely pretty ghetto, awful places to live. Allow me to explain.
I grew up not in Utah but in a big city in the western United States. Where I grew up it was the suburbs and it was pretty nice. By pretty nice, I mean really nice. Okay, it was fucking rich. Yes, boys and girls, I grew up in a pretty damn exclusive part of town where pools, tennis courts and three car garages were the norm. Where I live in Salt Lake City is quite different. You see, I live near downtown in a little house with a small yard, no pool, no tennis court and with a dinky little garage.
At first I hated the living arrangements in this part of town, but tolerated it. When we were newlyweds my husband wanted to stick around the part of town he grew up in, and since he had a nice place of his own I complied. I figured later when we had kids we would move out to the 'burbs where we would have more space, but my husband absolutely refused. After a while we moved out of state for my husband's work and ended up in a large city in the suburbs. The area was nice, fairly affluent and reminded me very much of where I grew up in many ways. After a few years we moved back to Utah, again following a job. We had acquired so much stuff living in the suburbs that we decided to move into the suburbs here. That was a huge fucking mistake.
One of the most obvious things about the suburbs here is that the percentage of the population that is active Mormon is dramatically higher. I kid you not, just about everyone on our block got up on Sunday morning, got all glitzed up and headed off to church, the same church, at the same time. Every. Fucking. Sunday. It was like living in Stepford, except the fashions are much better in Stepford and the houses are much nicer. There were Mormon meetinghouses EVERYWHERE. They would start a new subdivision and the first thing that would be built would be a Mormon church. So if you are moving to Salt Lake City from out of state and you aren't Mormon, I would tell you to beware moving to the suburbs where you will stick out like a sore thumb. Of course some areas are worse than others, but overall it is just a bad idea.
The whole Mormon majority thing was annoying but not very shocking, honestly. What was shocking was the fact that overall the suburbs around Salt Lake City are fucking ghetto! There are a few areas that have large homes with pools, tennis courts and such. Many of those areas are revolving doors where people move in, living for a short while and then move out swiftly (usually with a bank owned real estate sign in front of their house, if you know what I mean). The rest of the suburbs here are full of shitty houses (many that are split entry) with chain link fences, garbage cars parked everywhere and shit falling off the houses all over the place (like peeling paint or falling rain gutters). Where I live now houses are old, but they are all kept really nice. There were quite a few people in the area where we moved that I strongly suspected did not give their kids much food and those same children wore the same few outfits constantly. I don't have anything wrong with people who aren't rich, but I was shocked that the suburbs here are largely pretty damn poor. Of course there are a million kids in the suburbs, so ironically the people who can't afford to have large families, have large families.
A little while ago I was reading an article all about how in some cities poverty is rising rapidly in the suburbs. Salt Lake City was one of the prime examples used in the article. The article talked about how the recession caused a shift in wealth, leading to increased poverty in the 'burbs. The article did not mention that this problem has been around in Salt Lake City for some time.
Where I live, near downtown, is pretty liberal. People display quite a few signs and banners supporting Obama or Hillary (again). There are quite a few homosexuals around here and most people don't give them any shit. And yes, Mormon churches are far less numerous. There's quite a bit of art as well, which doesn't seem to exist much in the 'burbs here, unless you count bland Jesus pictures and church piano music as art. There's more of a sense of community here than in the 'burbs, where if you aren't part of the local Mormon ward group you are pretty much left out of a lot of the social activities. Here people have block parties or holiday parties and really do invite everyone in the area. Nobody really gives a damn what group you belong to, because you belong to the neighborhood and so are a part of "the group." People walk around, say hello to each other and do things nearby instead of driving everywhere. My neighbors are doctors, attorneys, professors and business owners instead of the millions of contractors and "sales people" (people who sell scan investment coaching packages over the phone or something shady like that) I was surrounded by in the 'burbs.
Most Mormons really hate the area where I live because there are "those liberals" who live here. I guess they like living in areas where people aren't very social, things are shitty and everyone pumps out a bunch of kids because they're supposed to. As for me, I'll keep my old house in a well-kept area where I can walk a few minutes to get a coffee and a sandwich instead of climbing in my car.