Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bicycles & Life As We Know It

Today marks the one year anniversary of returning home from serving as a full-time missionary in the Washington Spokane Mission. It seems funny to think that the way you keep time as a missionary is by how much time you have left before you go home. Anyone who says they didn't think about that is a liar. It isn't a bad thing necessarily, unless it prevents you from doing the work you have been sent to do. It is what it is. What is really ironic is how you still keep track of time in terms of your mission, in this case, how far away you are from the day you came home. So much has happened, changed, and moved forward at a startling speed. I'm sure that when I am married I will keep track of time by how long I've been married...and then kids....and then I'll be an old man one day and probably won't remember what day of the week it is.

Anyway, to celebrate my one year anniversary of being home we decided to re-image our newly acquired bike (thanks to Will and Hannah). I figured that a little reminder of how much I hated riding around in dark slacks and white shirt (surprisingly comfortable..) underneath the blistering sun while being convinced that someone was going to throw something at me as my companion and I rode down a dangerously narrow and busy road. It only happened once or twice. I remember a stick and a drink. The stick bounced off the helmet, the drink...not so much. God bless those hard and terribly awkward shaped skull caps. I also remember when my bike was stolen and the thief was kind enough to leave his bike as a token of appreciation for mine. I was surprisingly calm as I rode this low rider bike with an almost-falling-off seat back to our apartment that day. I think it was because I was in that beautiful first 6 months period of your mission where anyone can do almost anything to you and all you can do is love them for some sickening reason. I was upset but quickly got over it as I took pride in the new bike I bought: a Raleigh M-80 that had gone through 2 generations of previous missionaries and would now endure another generation of torture and use at my hands. I am proud to say that it lasted the rest of my mission and was passed on to someone who needed it to get back and forth to work.

The bike was a combination of a hideously bright orange and white color scheme that reminded me of the something out of the seventies. It is a cruiser bike with a pretty hefty seat for even the cushiest rear end. I decided to take it out of the back of Bethany's car one day while she was in class. The back seat had to be laid down to get the bike in there for it's journey from SLC to Rexburg. I heard it went in pretty easy but getting it out was another story. Somehow I managed to lift the seat up and get it caught on the seat belt (which conveniently decided we were in the middle of a car wreck and would NOT release so that I could lower the seat again) and could not get it out. I was sweating and in a fit of desperation turned the AC on with all the doors open because I was getting so hot trying to get this bike out. I'm not sure what I was thinking now that I look back on the situation. The only thoughts in my head are one's I am too ashamed to repeat out loud. Something about cars..

Long story short, I took bike apart to get it out only after being secretly embarrassed in front of Bethany that I couldn't get it out to begin with. We have moved on since this incident.

I gave the bike a few days alone as punishment before I worked on it again and after a few cans of spray paint and some tender words of encouragement she looks great!

Ultimately, I realized that fixing this bike was a lot like my year of being home from serving a mission. It hasn't always been easy and in the middle of things can make you cuss under your breath. In the end though, life is beautiful. It requires some hard work and taking a step back from time to time to know what to do.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way

Sometimes I get into a very sentimental and nostalgic mood (if it is even possible to be nostalgic at the age of 23) and can't help but think about how the way my life has turned out. I went to the jeweler's this past week to pick up my wedding band and wore it during the ride home. It was almost startling to look at my hand laid across the steering wheel, clad with a shiny piece of metal, and realize that I will be starting a family with Bethany in less than 2 months. I sometimes wonder what my parents felt like when they were getting married and how they feel looking back on their children 24 years later. Families are legacies. I think I understand now more than ever that my parents had no idea what they were doing but knew that everything would be okay.

I turned 23 on Thursday and wondered where the time has gone. In the wise words of Pink Floyd, "You run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking...Racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older...Shorter of breath and one day closer to death." I hope that I am not close to death but the time seems to run faster and faster away from me and I'm left not knowing what happened.

In the midst of all this deep thought it dawned on me that Bethany and I have known each other for 7 years now. It is quite amazing that through all the riotous times and changes that come with passing through being a teenager to adulthood that we have remained friends and are together today. We never would have made it if we had stayed together then because...well, at least I can speak for myself in saying that I was an idiot when I was a teenager. I'm sure Bethany was an angel all along. The things I remember from our teenage years together are strange and haphazard. I remember an ugly-as-sin 1990's era MPV mini-van, learning to drive stick shift on a Jetta that I was convinced would fall apart at any second, our Chemistry teacher who insisted on calling Bethany "Beth", watching the Notebook for the first time and maybe shedding a tear (please don't tell anyone), getting in trouble by my Mom, Jen, and Ryan for going over to Jen & Ryan's when they weren't there and we had been given explicit instructions not to go there (we have since forgiven and forgotten...mostly), and breaking up with Bethany over the phone (I know, typical teenage thing to do) while I was sitting at a stoplight down the street from my house.

I remember writing each other during our missions. The night before I left I received a phone call from Bethy. She was in the airport coming home from China and it was a very random and unexpected phone call. I am convinced that if she had not called me that night we would not be getting married. It is a hard thing to explain but that phone call let us both know that we were going to stay in touch with each other during my mission (and hers even though she didn't know she was going yet). We wrote each other often and I always had thoughts of "what if" that clamored for attention in my brain. To be honest, a part of myself fell in love with Bethany through the letters that we wrote, knowing that we were both doing the greatest work on the earth that we could be doing. We were connected by those letters and our friendship grew much deeper than I had expected.

And then we both ended up at school in the middle of beautiful-but-barren southern Idaho. The rest is more or less history at this point. I knew that if we started dating that we would get married. It was never unclear to me. I am glad that she decided to date me and marry me. I am glad that she laughs at my silly jokes even when they aren't funny. I am glad that she is the type of person who makes me better.

The point of this post is not to be sappy even if it comes across as such. We are happy together and I know that this was supposed to happen. There are too many little things that "just worked out" for any of this to be coincidence or convenience. I am glad that there is someone orchestrating our lives in a very real way and giving us choices and paths that we can travel down. I am happy that my life, all 23 years of it, has turned out the way that it has.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where'd all the SMART people go...

I came the BYU-Idaho in 2006 ( don't worry i haven't been here straight for that long, I tend to take breaks from school for adventures ) and from the first day I have noticed that the people here tend to be very different from what I am used to growing up on the east coast. My first semester I was in shock when i watched all the dorm girls my age date and marry guys within 6 months of meeting them. By the the time I left on my mission i knew 1 girl from my first semester who wasn't married. I mean i went on a mission at 21, not that old. I thought on my mission I had come to terms with the BYU-Idaho life,I had decided that it wasn't my life and everyone needs different things. I felt like nothing could surprise me anymore. Well I was once again wrong.

Let me give you a little background on my student ward this semester. I am in a ward with all the dorm boys and girls. Its really interesting. I actually meet in the same place i did my first semester here. It doesn't bother me too much because I am engaged so whatever. I have one FHE brother who got home from his mission 6 weeks before school started and I knew it right away. He kept asking to give all the lessons for FHE and every time the group leader would assign someone a lesson for the next week he would tell her he could bring a back up lesson just in case. Once we overheard him asking the bishop if he could give a talk. I mean maybe that is normal?

So Sunday I wasn't feeling well so I didn't make it church. Later that afternoon Eric and I came into my apartment and my roommate Emily said she has some news for us but our other roommate Miquela wanted to make sure she was there to see our reactions. We couldn't find Miquela so I started quizzing Emily to tell me what the news was because I am a very impatient person. She just said guess who is engaged from our FHE group? I laughed and said the 18 year girl Brittney who told us on the first day that she didn't want anything but to be married. ( another story for another day) Emily to my surprise said no. It is Christian the boy who just returned home from his mission and was so eager to give the spiritual thoughts. I couldn't figure out how, I mean we saw him 3 weeks ago and he had told us he was still scared of girls. That is exactly it. He had met her 3 weeks ago. 3 WEEKS PEOPLE. I mean it takes 6 weeks to get a passport and he is engaged to some girl after only 3 WEEKS . Emily told us the details she knew, but we didn't get the whole story until Monday at FHE when I politely asked him to tell us the story. The story is they have a class together and he saw her on the first day and thought she was cute but didn't talk to her until 3 weeks ago. They then started talking on skype and before you know it they had a date. After one whole long week they told each other the big L word and after that they both knew they wanted to marry each other. So he got a ring and proposed. 3 weeks later they were engaged, planning to be married get this JULY 28. When he told me that I said " you are getting married before me and i have been engaged for 3 1/2 months, dating Eric for more than 6months before and I have known him for 6 years" He just put his head down and let out a laughing scream after i was done. The whole time I am thinking your parents must be going crazy. I know if i had done that i would have 5 sisters telling me i was crazy and that they wouldn't let me make that mistake. Her parents are the ones who proposed July 28. They are very supportive of this. He said his mother was happy but his sister thought they were crazy and should date for a year before getting engaged. He responded by saying that she wasn't active in the church so she didn't understand the whole revelation receiving a confirmation thing. I almost smacked him. Clearly he doesn't understand it either. If he was really into following what he was supposed to do he should look up some talks about dating and courtship and getting to someone before you decide to marry them for all time and eternity. Oh did I tell you she is only 19 and this is her very first semester at BYU-Idaho. In order to deal with the fact i am surrounded by crazy people i have just let it go. It is not my life. But I have learned some lessons from this whole experience. 1. I will teach my children the nature of revelation. 2. I will teach them to know someone before you commit your eternities to them. The 3rd and most important one is I WILL RAISE THEM ON THE EAST COAST.