I have always been a small-town girl. For me, going to BYU was going to the "big city." My first week of college was stressful mostly because of all of the big buildings, the many traffic lights (Payson only has like 9; Elk Ridge has like 9 stop signs, but no lights), and too many people. I was used to walking down the halls of the high school or the streets of my neighborhood knowing that most of the people at least recognized me. That was not the case when I first started college. I was invisible. Invisible in a big, scary city.
But it is hard to experience college life when you are living a half hour away with your family. So I moved out my sophomore year—I had great roommates, a great ward, I loved my classes—it was what I always thought college should be. But I missed seeing the stars at night. I missed having a yard. I missed Elk Ridge water and having access to a piano all the time. However, despite all the things I was leaving behind, I knew that Provo was where I needed to be because it was an environment that allowed me to grow and develop my independence; I needed my independence more than I needed good water and grass. After moving home for the summer at the completion of my junior year, I vowed that I would never move back home again—I just wasn't happy in an environment when I was another one of the kids rather than an equal.
However, I ended up moving home this summer anyway, and this time I will probably be home for more than just the summer. A combination of intense senioritis, roommates, and just plain being sick of life in BYU-Provo led me to think that even living under my parents' roof again wouldn't be so bad. And I was right, mostly because my parents started treating me more like and adult and I tried harder to act like one. Happy at home again, I was able to enjoy all that Elk Ridge has to offer: the people that wave at you on the street whether they know you or not; the nights out on the porch watching the sun set, reading a good book, or talking; the quiet, peaceful setting; and being surrounded by good people that you grew up with or that helped raise you.
The only way that Elk Ridge could be better would be if it were smaller and more remote. Oddly enough, while we were on our way to Bryce Canyon, we passed a gate that said Elk Ridge across the top. My dad immediately turned around and parked the car next to the gate. We all got out and took our picture, and then we did a little bit of exploring. All of the "houses" in this little area looked like summer cabins. All of them were big and beautiful, and were surrounded by land—not buildings. They were completely cut off from civilization, alone in a beautiful setting. We all wished that we could just stay there for the rest of the summer. However, keeping everyone fed would have been a problem. The nearest grocery store was hours away, and for a family that goes through 12 gallons of milk a week, that would get old fast. Going to a movie or even seeing a town required even more driving. So while this Elk Ridge certainly wouldn't be a permanent place of residence, it would certainly be heaven for a few weeks or months.
It's nice to know that there are Elk Ridges wherever you go. I don't have to resign myself to the fact that I may have to raise a family in a place where there are no stars, no magical snow, and no stunning summer sunsets. I don't have to settle down in a place that is full of pollution, cars, and Walmarts. Because, at least in Utah, all you have to do is drive a little bit out of the way—and you will find your Elk Ridge.