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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Utahn #1: Finding Identity

I was born in Burbank, California in 1985 to two Canadian-born individuals residing in the state. My father was born dual (American-Canadian) due to his mother, and because I, along with my sisters, were born in Burbank to Canadian parents we attained dual citizenship by birth. In 1993, my folks decided to move back to Canada, leaving behind friends, a broken state and the only home I'd ever known.

For my sisters it wasn't that hard. They have little to no memory of our small, run-down home in Glendale, California (next door to Burbank), of the streets and sky and the view of mountains from the corner. When we left, I was seven turning eight, and I had only known California. My dad worked in the entertainment industry and had taken me down into Hollywood countless times to his place of work. We had relatives two hours away in Riverside who we visited frequently. My parents' friends were like family to me. My little world never reached outside of Southern California. The moved shocked me into the concept that my world was much, much bigger.

Living in Canada wasn't as different as I thought it would be. English-speaking and as Western as any my old home it was easy to fit in, though school always seemed a harder place to fit in, but that's another story. With both sets of grandparents living within city limits of my new town, being surrounded by family all the time was interesting. Visiting was no longer was annually, but weekly, and with a Anglo-Lebanese grandmother (on my dad's side) the food was copious and delicious, and vacations with my mother's parents constant. For 14 years I lived this life, but for 14 years it never really fit. There was always something missing in my heart. It may of been the small world I returned to, never venturing far outside of the urbanized corridor that lines Lake Ontario, or it could of been that Canada could never replace California as home. When it came time to move I decided to move back to my birth place. I had a job offer there and I had the feeling that returning to California would allow myself to lose that empty place in my heart. It didn't.

California is a beautiful state. Full of mountains, deserts, plains and countless animals and plants. I'm a desert lover, and California fit my love of arid wastelands. Yet, when my life settled in California was my soon-to-be wife, things that felt set were not. It was as if the completeness was just in passing, The pieces not made to hold together. It was the atmosphere of Los Angeles and of my job. Fast paced and unstoppable, it took over my life quickly. My boss even told me that I had to think of my job 24/7. That my job is inseparable from me. That seemed to work for many of my co-workers, but television was never me, not totally. I chose it for my college degree, but I had so much more I wanted to do, but once I discovered that freedom I had already put so much into television study that it would of been a massive waste to quit. It was around this time that my love quickly grew tired of Los Angeles as well. Add in a political climate hazardous to our views and a search for a new home was quickly in the works.

The moment I fell in love with Utah was on June 2nd, 2008. I had been through Utah before, but only through the southern territories where the are more mountains than people and more people than plants. A beautiful area and one that put Utah on my very small list of potential states to make my home (Arizona was the other state). While driving our Uhaul towards the ever growing mountains to the east I saw a small mountain range out the driver's side window. The sun had been peaking in and out of the clouds and at that moment its light was painting the mountains in such a grand way that the first words out of my mouth was: "This is truly God's country." As a strict atheist, I don't actually believe God claimed Utah as his or even believe in any supernatural power, but at that time it sure as hell felt like I did. This was the culmination of years of spiritual searching (which I'll cover later) of the heart of a man that seemed biologically unable to believe in a higher power. As it turns out, one can have faith and love and belief without a dot supernatural ink.

Love, faith, belief. You can have all that in the place you live. Your country, your state, your fellow citizens. The religion of community.

Home is an abstract concept when your roots spread across two nations. Home becomes a feeling, an intuition, where family geography is negated by its dilution between your birth place and where your parents are from. But once you find your home it hits you like seeing your future wife for the first time. Its a near-religious experience. Its an epiphany on the future of you, your spouse and the tons of little pink critters that'll you'll have to raise and teach and hope for every day. When you're home you love every single moment that occurs there. And that is beyond anything a book or a organized religion can supply.

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