I finally caved and got a Facebook account. It’s been fun to reconnect with some old friends and family members. And it’s been funny how many times someone has sent me a message asking, “Are you runtu?”
Last night I found an old friend with whom I worked at the BYU Writing Lab when I was an undergraduate many years ago. He did not look like a typical BYU student: he dressed like a biker, and he had long hair past his shoulders, which he would tuck inside a hat when he was on campus. But he was one of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever met. We were taking a literary theory class together, and I would always come away from Heidegger and Lacan et al. a little intimidated. And then I’d come in to work, and Brian would want to talk about it. At first I thought it wasn’t fair that I had to talk to someone who was so intelligent that he just absorbed philosophy and semiotics, but an odd thing happened. As we talked, Brian would help me see that I had understood what we had read, and he gave me the opportunity to express what I thought about it. I can’t tell you how much our conversations helped me believe in my own intellect.
A few years later I was working at the Church Office Building, and Brian had gone off to Seattle, I think, for graduate school. One of our mutual friends told me in very sad terms that Brian had, in her words, left the LDS church. One thing I had admired about Brian was his practical approach to Mormonism. He knew it didn’t exactly fit him, but he managed to make it work. At the time I was really saddened to hear this, as I fully believed that he was forfeiting a lot of real blessings.
These days I look back and wonder why it took me so long to figure out what Brian and so many others have discovered about Mormonism. I’m a little jealous of people who saw what the church was at an early age. It took me forty years, and I’m still dealing with a lot of the pain my exit has caused me and my family. But I’m happy he has found his own way.
Brian is teaching at the University of Utah, and I hope he’s doing well. It sounds as if he is. At least he doesn’t to hide his hair anymore.