In Logan Utah, things feel safe. People have roots. Students are respectful. They go on missions for two years and come back as adults. They have learned something about the world, and maybe even a foreign language. They get married and have children. Life’s goals are clear. If things start to go wrong in your life, you have a community to help. You go to church with people in your ward. You have support dealing with life’s challenges.
The community is homogeneous. Logan is listed as the best place to retire in the US.
I live the San Francisco Bay Area. It is heterogeneous, a mix of races, classes, religions, and sexual orientations. Things are hectic. I generally have a vague sense of unease about who the people are around me and what could happen. Unlike in Logan, I lock my car always, and of course my house.
I have no religious affiliation. If things go wrong in my life, I’m on my own. I don’t have answers to the big questions, like why are we here? I don’t believe in heaven or hell or an after life. I live with what some have called “existential dread.”
I look at the Mormons I met and envy their calm certainty that their lives have a purpose and they live in a supportive community. I will never have that, and I will stay where I am in both my psychic isolation and my uncertainty. But, I will go back to Logan, Utah anytime to visit or to work, and the others around the dinner table will say, “Who is that guy drinking beer?”