I left the dusty, dry southern Idaho capital city of Boise on January 1, 1998. I was born in Boise, at St. Luke's Hospital, in 1962. I knew it well. I worked at what was then Boise Cascade Corporation in their corporate Human Resources Department for 13 years. I started when I graduated from high school. I knew a lot of folks. I knew every restaurant in town. I lived their before Boise ever had a mall to shop at. We had an acre of land with a $13,000 house on it. We didn't have too much but we had enough. It was in Boise that I went to First Presbyterian Church as a child and then migrated to Boise Valley Christian Communion as a teenager. After a few years there, I moved on to Central Assembly Christian Life Center -- yes, it is that sort of church. Southern Idaho is filled with all sorts of people -- some that you can picture in your head, others that you perhaps only have stereotypes about. Basques. Mormons. Farmers. Ranchers. Horse and cattle acreages. Outdoor recreational enthusiasts. Bikers. Mostly conservative. Nearly all white. Plenty of pickup trucks. And, now, equally as many Lexus, Acura and Cadillacs. They like tradition. They like family. And values. And, now, they even have a mall. Traffic is horrible. No one carpools. There is no decent, widely used city transit system. People enjoy driving with one person in each car. Although it has changed somewhat now, they are not the sort of folks that trend toward brightly colored hair, piercings, ink on the skin, or mohawks. You'll get stared at if you do. Oh, and now they have Wal Mart. And Starbucks. And gays.
I used to get teary-eyed when I would return. I missed it. I'd never lived anywhere else. All of my family and friends were there. My church buddies still roamed the pews, my dad is buried there, and I still knew my way around. I was married and lived there for seven very long years. And that's where I came out. And now, I'm in Portland. Happy. Healthy. And don't get teary as much when I go back. In fact, I sort of like leaving Idaho now. It just doesn't feel like I fit there any longer. I mean, there are a few isolated businesses and coffee shops that welcome my type. But I still feel sort of like I have a 50-pound bag of concrete tied to my ankle in the sea of "W-04" and "One Man One Woman" bumper stickers. Well, and the "Power of Pride" waving everywhere as well. It feels sterile. White. Lacking much depth, it leans toward shallow in my mind. Oh, they really dig their sports teams and such. But where do I fit in? I even think it's funny when I hear comments like "Oh, they are a Mormon family....." or "That's an LDS church over there." And you hear those sentiments frequently. (And in case you didn't know, LDS stands for Latter Day Saints ..... the Mormons.)
We talked about it on our drive back home the other day. How much longer it would be before we could possibly get my sister moved out of there and over to be near us in Portland. And what would happen once my mother, god forbid, passes away. Would we still make our journeys back to Boise? Would we need to? In all seriousness, the only reason we go any longer is just to see my Mom, sister, and niece. There's not much else there. I guess that's why I'm not there any longer. Because there's just not much there....on many levels.