Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Hipsters Here

I wouldn't call myself defensive or even stand-offish, but being from Portland I have grown accustomed to people minding their own business. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Portland has a "hipster" vibe and people generally keep to themselves. I call it the "too cool for school" syndrome.

And, I would consider myself fairly outgoing compared to some of my hipster friends. I take it upon myself to break the ice and create conversation with groups of people (such as Sunday school, or a baby shower) who may find themselves in a slightly awkward situation. I say hello to strangers, if we're the only two people together... and I'm happy to smile at anyone who walks by.

That being said, here in Salt Lake City I find myself feeling like a hipster. Almost every time I'm in public, someone strikes up a conversation with me. And I'm not talking the hello-how-are-you conversation. It's much more complex and intimate, often resulting in a ten minute discussion. My reaction is often surprise, due to the fact that I have yet to grow accustomed to random people talking to me.

For example, today at the Park Lucas and were running around in the gardens and I was snapping photos (due to my slacking off). A guy (probably late 40's...obviously outdoorsy) walked onto the grass from the sidewalk and offered to take a photo of Lucas and I. I'm ashamed to admit that I was immediately defensive (internally) and tried to figure out his angle. I thought, "why would this random guy want to do this for us?" So I kindly said, "Sure... that sounds nice." He took the photo and started up in conversation (of course... because that's what people do here). He asked if we lived around here (I was freaking out a little bit) and I said, "Um yes... we live in the 9th & 9th neighborhood." And then he asked more personal stuff... like where we're originally from, and if we're Mormon (nearly everyone asks that). So in the midst of conversation I mentioned Matt (because, like the dingus I am... I left my wedding ring on the bathroom sink... and wanted to be sure my new friend knew I was NOT on the market) and Matt's job and how we ended up in Salt Lake City. We talked for ten minutes or so... and then I told him I hoped his afternoon was nice (I've become a professional conversation closer at this point).

So... yes, I was a little nervous. Because you can never be too careful. And honestly, it's odd that complete strangers would discuss life... like maybe we'll grab a cup of coffee and become tight friends. But... it seems like this happens at least once a week. It seems to be the norm in Salt Lake City.

Just last week a lady walking her dog stopped us on the sidewalk and we talked small-talk for nearly 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes.  The week before that, I had a younger guy stop me at the grocery store and ask me if I really liked the Cincinnati Reds (I was wearing a Reds hat). After I said yes... he and I discussed Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was weird.  You know why? Because I'm from Portland. And clearly I'm a hipster.

This is the photo our new friend at the park took of us.
*I should mention that I've enjoyed my conversations with my new friends and though I'm insecure about their intentions, I've never ended up in a situation where I felt unsafe or threatened. Salt Lake City is a nice place. I promise.


  1. Ha! I feel the same way about Portland. A coldness to the rainy city, a stand-offishness. I wonder if I too will notice the difference if/when we move. We miss you guys lots, but I'm glad you're meeting people down there. (Your son is so cute!!!)

  2. Beth, what a delight to get to just "talk" to people. People are soooo interesting (for the most part)! Thanks for the update.

    p.s. we can't wait for your visit!

    Love, Dad Tibbs