Old Friends

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.


2 Responses to Old Friends

  1. aerin says:

    I think we each do things in our own time.

    This is something that LDS missionaries “co-opted” – the idea of a golden contact.

    But I believe there’s a part of this that is honestly true. There are times in our lives when we’re willing to face truths about ourselves, and make changes. I think going to professional therapy is a great example of this. Or finding a new job. For some of us, many people in one’s life will say “you might want to think about therapy” or “maybe you should look for a different job”.

    At some point, a person may wake up and say – yeah, maybe I’ll give it a try. Maybe they won’t. My point is, everyone does things differently. Why should I think that because things worked out a certain way for me, they should work that way for someone else? And yet, I find myself getting into those bad habits all the time.

    I honestly feel there are a whole host of factors in these types of questions – family, location, personality, spouses, country, etc. that can change how two people can hear the same message.

    Another co-opted message? That whole idea of going into a room filled with problems and still choosing your own. After years of looking at things, I’m pretty sure that I would still choose my own issues/problems. Some have been quite painful. But they’re mine – and I understand them (and am learning to understand myself). This message was not that far off the mark for me. That’s not saying I would choose to stay LDS, because I haven’t. But I have quite a lot to be grateful for.

  2. rebecca says:

    I’m in total agreement with Aerin – we do things in our own time. I know – easy for me to say. It’s always easy to tell someone else that they’re ok, and that they should go easier on themselves; it’s a lot harder to feel that way about ourselves. I know there are a lot of things I wish I’d realized/done sooner (leaving Mormonism being just one, and not even the biggest). I’m going to be 30 next year and sometimes I get this awful panicky feeling about all the things I “should” have done by 30, and I have to keep telling myself to take a deep breath and quit setting myself some arbitrary deadline.

    Everyone gets to things in their own time, and we just have to keep reminding ourselves that our time doesn’t need to be measured against anyone else’s.

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