Going to the Sundance Film Festival has extra significance for me because I used to live in Utah and still have friends and family there. The first six years I covered the fest, it was as a local, working for a newspaper in Provo and then as a freelancer for Salt Lake City Weekly. This will be my third fest as an out-of-towner.

I kind of miss being a local because it made me special. Journalists who had come to Park City from far away would envy the fact that I could commute from home, or that I didn't have to persuade my newspaper to spend thousands of dollars to send me. (Sundance was a local event; of course we were covering it.) It was handy to have a car so I could pick people up at the airport, or to occasionally make daring, last-minute drives from one festival venue to another in the mad hope that even with finding a parking space, it would still be faster than taking the shuttle bus. As much as I made fun of Utah and didn't like a lot of things about the place, I felt honestly proud of the state's natural beauty and the fact that we had this huge, world-class film festival right there in our own backyard.

Now I live in Portland, which is also beautiful and has a decent film festival. I don't miss living in Utah, exactly, but I do miss a lot of the people. When I return to Utah for Sundance, I drive rather than fly. It's an 11-hour trek, but it's worth it to have local transportation (without having to rent a car) so that I can visit everybody before and after the festival. As I write this, I'm just about to load up the car and take off. Pray for good weather along I-84! Utah, I'm comin' home! (For 10 days. I ain't movin' back in.)