Some things have changed in Salt Lake City. The downtown now boasts a large (and frankly overpriced) mall, a GIANT Harmon's and several new condo buildings. 9th and 9th now has a delicious gelato joint. Olympus high school is expanding - big time. The dumpy joint on 13th and 11th has been replaced with a gorgeous restaurant. Smith's is new, sparkly and has a gas station. Red Butte Garden has acquired a beautiful neighbor in the Natural History Museum (which I have yet to visit) and I am told it boasts one of the best views in the city. The University Guest House has grown an entirely new wing. Liberty Park staff is no longer in the process of squeegee-ing the oil off each individual duck. Trax now has all kinds of new lines. Millcreek Library is now a place I would gladly spend the day working (and plan to!).
Some things haven't changed. Park Cafe still has the best strawberry jam. That guy that sat in that one seat at that one cafe every day still sits at the same seat at the same cafe every day I have been there. Nearly every place I go, I run into people I know. Has-a-trust-fund-but-chooses-to-be-homeless Jake still roams around the park, warming his can of baked beans with the fire from a pile of sticks he's gathered at the playground. Hornsby's still tastes the same - but the bottles now look TINY!!! My parents house is still one of my favorite places. And my friends are still some of the best people I have met in the world and they make me laugh until I am red faced (and nearly wet crotched) every time I see them.
It's that last thing that makes me the happiest of all. I've been back for a week and a half now and every day has made me feel just a little more happy/proud/humbled/excited about just how incredible my friends are. How is it possible to be surrounded by such an amazing group? They are the funniest, most interesting, intelligent, kind, concerned, helpful, fun people a girl could ever hope to know. They accept everyone new with no hesitation. They support every ridiculous idea I can throw at them. If I said I wanted to po-go around the world, they would never ask why. They would start listing off places I should explore for industrial strength sticks. In the midst of my stress over visas and jobs, they have been completely there to listen to my stress but never get caught up in my fears about the future. They break down the problem and attack each step with optimism and a list of possibilities. They center me when my mind is hectic (though perhaps it's just the cider they throw at me that creates the calm). They believe in me and think I can do whatever I want in this crazy world. Little do they know they are the reason I have had the courage to follow through on some of the scarier endeavors in my life. No matter how many things change or stay the same, no matter where we are all living in the world, I can only hope they know how much I love them and hope that I am able to give them the same optimism and support when they need it.