There are three things you should know about me:
1. I do not live by my family
2. I have not lived by my family for 8-years
3. I miss my family
I am a Utah girl, born and raised. My husband is a California boy. We met while he was living in Utah going to school. When we graduated from BYU, The Artist got two job offers: one in Jacksonville, Fl and the other in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Hardly any of The Artist's graduating class received job offers, so we were grateful for whatever we got. We ended up choosing Wilkes-Barre.
(pronunciation guide: wilkes-bear, wilkes-bar or wilkes-berry...take your pick...the natives sure did!)
Pennsylvania...2,066 miles away from everything and everyone that I knew and loved. Not only was I moving so far away, but I was moving to the EAST COAST. I may as well have been moving to a whole new planet!
The people spoke differently than I. I heard things like, "What's doin'?", "What can I get for youse?", "Hena?". Let's just say that I did many double takes when I first arrived. I spoke differently too. I ordered a "pop" one time and the lady just looked at me and said, "you're not from around here are you?" They don't say "pop", they are much more sophisticated and say "soda". I actually like "soda" better, so I adapted to that one pretty quick. But I am happy to say that after 4-years of living there, I never, not ever stooped to saying "youse"! I have standards you know.
I grew up in a predominantly Mormon community. The thought of moving to a predominantly Catholic community totally freaked me out! Not because I have anything against Catholicism, but because I was going to be the minority. ME! I had never been in the minority in my entire life! It was daunting.
I arrived in PA on a Sunday. The next day, Monday, I went to the adorable little library in West Pittston to type up my resume. I fell in love with the library from the moment I walked in...but that is a whole other post. Anyway, back to the excitement that was my resume. I sat down to start typing when this guy, about my age, dark hair, dark eyes, totally Italian looking, but with a thick East Coast accent, looks over my shoulder and says,
"BYU? You went to BYU?"
(Oh crap, he's going to know I'm a Mormon) "Yes"
"Are you a Mormon?"
"Let me ask you something....(and he asked this with complete sincerity) How many wives does your husband have?"
(What the heck?!?!?!?) "Uh, one."
"No, no. I mean, how many is he ALLOWED to have?"
(Is this guy serious?) "One."
Yes folks. That is the very first conversation I had with anybody, save my husband, when we moved to Pennsylvania. I still shake my head over it.
(side note: this guy and I ended up working together for the same company and became friends.)
I realized something about East Coasters that day...at least the ones in NEPA (that stands for Northeastern Pennsylvania in case you didn't know...it is a "word" they use ALL the time!) I realized that they are very blunt about pretty much everything. They will ask you anything and say anything to you, but they do it with an open heart and an open mind. I have never in my life met so many wonderful people. We lived in this little town where you knew everyone and everyone knew you. Your neighbors were your family. There are no substitutions for my real mom and dad, but I had plenty of volunteers for the position of my PA mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins...you name it. It was a wonderful experience that I will always treasure. And though I no longer live in PA, I miss the relationships and the friendships that I had there.
I grew a lot as a person because of my experiences in PA. I am now happy to say that I love being the minority. No more fears about what people are going to think about me because of their misconceptions of Mormonism. No more fears about being so far from familiarity. Just excitement in the journey and optimism for the future.