Friday, March 16, 2012

Okay, Universe, It's Your Turn (Anne)

My sister moved to a far-off land, and I want to visit her and her adorable family. But to do so requires a passport.

Can you believe I am as old as I am and don't have a passport? Since I served a mission in Canada pre-9/11, all I needed for a visa was my birth certificate. And it's not like I'm swimming in money to travel whenever I'd like, and I didn't want to go traipsing all over the world by myself.

But yesterday, I gathered all the required paperwork, paid the fees, and in 4-6 weeks I will have a passport. As I left the Post Office, I thought to myself why I had waited so long to get a passport, and though not the sole reason, one reason was that I kept expecting a different last name.

It's the same reason why I never had my scriptures engraved--when I bought my post-mission set, I was dating someone, then someone else, and then I figured I'd just wait.

(And yes, the feminist in me kinda cringes as I admit this to the world, but it's somewhat safe with the pseudonym and all.)

So, Universe, my passport application is on its way to the State Department. Is this passport gonna last me 10 years? Or will I have just paid $135 only to have to get a new one in the next year or two?

Your move.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trauma-Drama Queen (Stella)

Last night I sat with my sweetheart enjoying a well earned piece of pizza (after my 20 minute swim at the gym) talking about our day, what our upcoming plans were, joking and teasing each other (as only 2 first born instigators can) and just enjoying the evening. Somewhere within that conversation (and though I'm forgetting right now how it was relevant at the time) he made this statement:

"Someday when you're married you're going to love being a wife."

And there it was. In one short, well intentioned sentence I was yanked back to every break up I've ever experienced where a man had told me he wanted to marry me but because I am so wonderful (which I am) and they are so unworthy (which they were) they just couldn't in good conscience make that type of commitment. In one confused blink of his eyes, mine filled with tears and we looked at each other as only a man and woman can. Both completely baffled as to what the other is confused about. She feeling hurt to her core questioning how she could love such an unfeeling brute, he wondering what in the world he had said that had landed him on the on-ramp for one of those discussions.

Being the independent, hates being vulnerable, swore to the heavens that she would never put herself in this position again kind of girl that I am I had to fight back my initial impulse to get up and run. I did a little self therapy, told myself to brave and then...clammed up.

My sweetheart, being the sensitive male that he is will do anything in his power to make me happy. It kills him when I have a problem he can't fix, and as far as I can tell he means it when he says that he wants me to share everything with him. I have to admit, that is new for me. I'm much more accustomed to something like the following: "I love you with all my heart! I would do anything for you! Of course, this is contingent on the requirements that you don't come to me with any problems, never confront me about something that is bothering you, and whatever you do never suggest that I am not 100% perfect."

After some gentle snuggles and a head rub (I'll do anything for a head rub) I was finally cajoled to connect the dots for him. Of course, I had to first figure it out myself and why I had such a primal, immediate reaction. What I realized (and what I finally shared) was that I had heard something very different then what he had said. While he was making a statement about our future life together I heard:

"Someday (a long, long time from now) when you're married (fat chance sister, it's never going to happen) you're going to love being a wife (because finally someone will have chosen you back you sad, sad thing. But don't hold your breath. By the way, I'm telling you this so that you'll read between the lines and know that I'm not interested in marrying you even though I've told you that I am. I just like watching you fight back all that hope and even giggle when I see you trying to resist the urge to pick out paint colors for this living room you're never going to live in. I secretly wonder how long you'll let me string you along, but I'm going to milk it for as long as I can. Cue evil chuckle...hehehe...")

That's quite a journey those few words took from my ears to whatever part of the brain stores memory and emotion. But that's the path I took and it happened so fast I didn't even realize it until the tears were falling down my face. That's the traumatized part of me I suppose - flashbacks and triggers to my most painful experiences. In an instant I was alone again and the freshness of those feelings was powerful.

I think of the times that I have let myself believe and opened up that protected part of my heart that I have (unfortunately) learned to guard with Xena Warrior Princess fierceness. By allowing myself to be vulnerable I have experienced those moments most of us would do anything to avoid but which I've started to wonder just might be important to our eternal development. Most of us have never been asked to cross frozen plains without food or shelter or deal with tyrannical leaders, or watch our families starve to death. We have been asked to deal with loneliness, hopelessness and depression and just like those faithful pioneers have been encouraged to be cheerful and keep going believing that our promised land is real and will soon be in front of us.

I just have to ask - why is that so hard to do even when all the signs around you say This Is The Place?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

High School Musical (Anne)

***Really hoping this post doesn’t completely reveal my identity***

I teach at a public high school, and every so often I’m asked to help out with playing the piano. I should have said no this year, as the demands of my teaching and grading load are so great that some days I wonder how I’m managing to get out of bed in the morning. But I said yes, mostly because my friend is the pit conductor, and because I love performing, and because any chance to sharpen my piano skills is something good for me.

But I wish we were doing a different musical.

We’re doing “Once On This Island,” the tale of a girl who prays to the gods to show her what her life should be like. And when a storm causes a cute boy to crash his car right outside the young girl’s village, she takes it as a sign that she is to be his keeper, protector, and lover.

What she doesn’t realize is that love (but really, it's more like obsession--think Ariel/Eric from The Little Mermaid) doesn’t really get her all that far, as the cute boy is engaged to a suitable girl within his social class. He invites the protagonist to remain his mistress, but he cannot marry her. She cannot abide his offer, thinking that her love for him will eventually overcome the social pressures.

I’m not going to spoil it, but it doesn’t end well.

As we’ve been in tech rehearsals all week and I’ve had to play the show several times, I’m often reminded of my own struggles. I’m no closer to any solutions for my concerns. But hearing lines like “Some girls you marry, some you love” over and over is wreaking a little bit of havoc on my self-esteem, my emotional well-being, and my faith.

I’m trying to have faith, trying to believe, trying to live a good life, all the while hoping that one day I will be blessed with a spouse. But does there ever come a point where hope becomes desperation? Where hope becomes pathetic? I honestly don’t know--or is my constant hope just a manifestation of my faith that even if I have to wait until I am 60, I will meet a sweet, funny, loving man who will forgive all my faults and physical shortcomings and love me?

(Though at 60, I’m hoping the men are a little less picky about height, weight, and overall beauty.)

I don’t know what the answer is.

But I’ve learned one thing from this year’s musical: if I’m asked to play again, I’ll wait to say yes until I’ve read the show.