1. The ‘Utah bump’
You sort of miss seeing women sporting big, square hairdos infamously known as the ‘Utah Bump’ or ‘Utah Poof.’ Come to think of it, you haven’t seen a Bump It hair volume insert on an infomercial since you left.
2. Nostalgia coming in the form of rotten egg smell
Ah, the smell of “the lake” when the winds came in wrong. Nothing will ever reek more like nostalgia.
3. Café Rio
Nothing makes you miss Utah like the thought of Café Rio’s pork barbacoa burrito or grilled chicken salad. Admit it, you’ve scoured the internet in vain to find the authentic recipe for the creamy house dressing. And where else are you always guaranteed to run into at least one person you know?
4. ‘Oh my heck’
‘Gol,’ you never thought you’d miss those diluted, gentle curses. ‘Dang it.’
5. The mountains
The horizon seems so bleak and empty without those purple majestic Rockies surrounding the valley. Those omnipresent Utah mountains had a way of stealing your breath without warning or reminding you that escaping into the wilderness for a hike up Little Cottonwood Canyon or a camping trip at Jordanelle was just a blink away.
6. The unending variety and derivatives of names
Taytum or Jaymz were always some favorites. But you did always appreciate Braydon for its many possible derivatives: Braden? Braydin? Braytin? Braighten? Brayzlee?
7. Never feeling directionally challenged
The massive Wasatch Front and grid system city layout in Utah always made it easy to know your north from south and east from west. Once you leave, you fall victim to becoming ‘directionally challenged.’
8. Unpredictable weather
Because there was something vaguely exciting about not knowing if you’d be wearing shorts in February or be complaining about random snow flurries in June.
Whatever you are trying to sell or buy, Craigslist never comes close.
Once you leave Utah and run into your first toll booth you start to realize why other states might call a perfectly good freeway a ‘highway’ or ‘interstate,’ because in Utah you never paid anyone to drive on I-15 or I-80, all the while enjoying cozy wide lanes and plenty of free parking.
11. Spontaneous trips to Zion
Or maybe it was Arches or Canyonlands. All it would take was a whim and a tank of gas and you could get up close to internationally-famous rock formations like Delicate Arch or create lasting memories with friends and family climbing Angels Landing or braving the Slot Canyons.
12. Neighbors who wave when you drive past
Remember what it was like to have neighbors who knew your name and might have even showed up to help unload or reload the moving truck? You don’t know what would happen if you started waving as you drove down your current street, but you could picture a few odd looks.
13. Elaborate ‘Welcome Home’ gatherings at the Salt Lake City Airport
So what if they were never for you? There is something fun about riding the escalator down to the baggage claim and seeing anxious extended families huddling around balloons and posters saying “Welcome Home Sister Dawson” or “Mission: Accomplished.”
14. The 24th of July
It was always more than a second Fourth of July or an excuse for some people to parade around in pioneer clothes.
Even though you are convinced the white rollercoaster is a death trap waiting to collapse at any moment, you’ll forever cherish the sticky cotton candy, those old-fashioned portraits at Pioneer Village, Frightmares during Halloween, and checking out hotties (when you still said “hotties”) as you crossed the amusement park on the sky ride.
16. The “DTR”
Life seemed simpler when you could have a ‘define-the-relationship’ with a prospective partner and people knew what that meant.
17. Locally grown fruits and veggies
18. Downtown Christmas lights
To date nothing screams holiday season to you like bundling up in baggy coats and stupid-looking hats and heading to Salt Lake with family or friends to freeze to death admiring the streaming colored lights covering every surface of Temple Square.
19.Dessert. And more dessert
Since dessert is the drink of choice in Utah, there were never a shortage of chocolate bunt cake stalls, and any excuse was good enough to eat raw cookie dough or head to Red Mango, Yogurtland, Coldstone, or other specialty ice cream stores. With chopped up desserts sprinkled on top for good measure, of course.