A Confession About Utah (and I’m Moving to Chicago!)

Sunset at the Salt Flats outside of Salt Lake City.
Sunset at the Salt Flats outside of Salt Lake City.

I have a confession.


I’ve spent the last five years shouting about how wonderful Salt Lake City is on my blog hoping to convince everyone to see the good side of the city — and overshadow the many negative connotations that often come with mentioning Utah. But in all honesty, one of the people I was trying hardest to convince that Utah is great was actually myself.

The LDS Temple in Salt Lake City.
The LDS Temple in Salt Lake City.

In fact, one of the reasons I started Random Acts of Kelliness was to challenge myself to find great events, great restaurants and great things about Salt Lake City. And it worked so well that for the past few years I’ve absolutely loved living here.

But despite all the pride and joy I had for Salt Lake City, there was an underlying ache to experience life without the Utah hangover — the one heavy with religious connotations, restrictive laws and conservative lifestyles. Never having lived anywhere else, I wondered what other worlds I could discover and experience.

The City and County Building in Salt Lake City.
The City and County Building during the Arts Festival.

Which is where the traveling came in. While loving my Salt Lake City home base, I ventured to cities around the world with the intention of both city-shopping and experiencing new places. Tokyo and Kyoto, Madrid, Paris and Prague were bucket list destinations I never dreamed I’d get to; while Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC were both bucket listers and places I was curious about living. Amazingly, I traveled to all those places and more in just a few years.

But eventually my wanderlust became a need rather than a want. As soon as I returned home from one vacation, I was desperate to plan my next “escape.” It was simultaneously an obsession with traveling and an avoidance of recognizing my real future in Salt Lake City.

One day, a good friend of mine asked what my favorite part of traveling was. I told him “not being in Utah.” Yes, it was a harsh exaggeration, but it uncovered a droplet of truth that I couldn’t deny. And sometime between Santa Barbara in September and Prague in December I admitted to myself that it was finally time to leave.

The Olympic Torch from the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games at the University of Utah.
The Olympic Torch from the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games at the University of Utah.

I have to confess that I’ve wanted to move out of Utah for as long as I remember. It’s a beautiful state full of wonderful people that’s only getting better, but (for me) there are so many clouds overshadowing its greatness that it was hard to overlook what else was beyond the statelines. Every day that I stay here is another day I’m choosing to put up with those frustrations because I also have the choice to leave.

When I came home from Vienna in January, I started planning my move. Initially my sight was set on New York City (after all, it is my favorite place) but Chicago kept calling my name. Eventually I got job offers in both cities and, after days of debating between the two, Chicago appeared to be the best answer.

Street in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Time to go onward. (400 South near the University of Utah.)

And so Chicago it is! This week I’m moving to the Midwest, leaving Salt Lake City behind me. Sadly, that means leaving all my amazing friends and incredible family, too. I am heartbroken, but it’s bittersweet because I know great things are just upon the horizon.

As for the blog, I’ll continue to write about Salt Lake City restaurants (when I’m in town, which will be often) while adding Chicago restaurants, arts and adventures too. And don’t worry, I’ll still be traveling (and writing about it) as much as possible.

I hope you’ll join me in the next leg of this adventure called life.  :)

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  • Congratulations on the move! I hope everything falls into place quickly! Wish you all the best, Man With Van Belvedere Ltd.

  • Good luck with the move & congrats on being brave enough to admit that as much as you tried, and found positives in your city, that it was time to move on :)

  • It is so great to travel! I do it every time when I start seeing the negative sides of the city I live in, too much. I have never lived in Salt Lake City, or in fact, in no cities in the USA. I lived in Prague, Bruges, Bristol and London. I can say that all of these places are amazing but London is just astonishing city! I’ve moved here two years ago and I’m so in love with the city! I recommend to everybody who feels lost and fed up with the place he lives in – to just move to London for some time! :) Thanks for sharing this lovely post and great photos!

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