After living in Salt Lake for nearly a month I went to one of the gyms after finishing my internship work for the day, I was supposed to be hanging out with my friend but she was busy and I had time to kill. I ended up chatting with an older man, he asked me questions about my climbing experience and my move to Utah and in addition to calling me coordinated (I dropped my phone and broke it later that night so we’re going to laugh at that comment), he told me to be careful- “Utah will grow on you,” he said.

I smiled and pointed at my tattoo of Indian Creek. “It already has!” I said laughing.

Photo by Joanne Baste

While sitting at my gym in Atlanta on Tuesday, my first full day back in Atlanta and my first time back in the gym, I texted a friend in Utah to complain. He told me I was homesick. The last time I felt homesick for a place I was living in Maryland and wanted nothing more in the world than to be in Atlanta. It felt like a part of me was missing- it would be hard to breath and my mind constantly wandered back to the place I wanted to be more than anything.

I knew I would miss Utah- the mountains and desert, all the people I had met, but it had never occurred to me that it would become my home. Atlanta has always been home to me. Complaining about traffic, public transit, rent prices, gym locations, enjoying good food and cocktails, the family of friends I have here- have always been what’s pulled me back to this bustling city I love to hate. A very oblivious part of me assumed I would move to Salt Lake, enjoy it, tire of it, and be happy to be back. But, while driving home the other night I realized I missed seeing the Wasatch mountains on my drive to and from work. I miss the big, wide horizons. I miss being able to escape into barren deserts.

Photo by Rodrigo Arroyo

Driving down the interstates of the south, wilderness escapes messily over the tops of barriers. Cars drive bumper to bumper, some swerving in and out of openings. Trees tower over you when climbing, their leaves obscuring most of the trails. There are no mountains peaking out above the city. There are no mountains peaking out anywhere, they have been covered by a thick blanket of trees.The wildness of the south is different than the wide open skies of the west. It pops up in sidewalk cracks, it swarms you with insects and humidity, it is everywhere it can plant roots in.

Kathy Karlo heading up a lichen filled crack in the New River Gorge, WV.

I moved to Atlanta with the idea that I would live here forever. I would be neighbors with my childhood best friends and I would be a city girl. I still love cities- you won’t catch me moving to Lander, WY no matter how much I love the climbing there. I still love Atlanta, the food is amazing, the cocktails are delicious, and the climbing access is impeccable. But somehow, in some silly way, Utah has made itself my home, for now.

My new home. Photo by Joanne Baste

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