The trees still look lacy in their early bloom. The mountains still loom, as they always have, and they still do not scare me. They have protected me and given me a reason to wake up every morning.
In January 2010, I rebegan. Confident and cynical, I wanted to finish as quickly as I could. I had been in school long enough. I had been out of school long enough.
That first apartment, my bedroom window All that time looking at the mountains.
Classes have been wonderful. I’m grateful to have learned so much, but I wonder if I have turned into more of a cynic. BYU is a unique environment; I’ve come across a special kind of bigot here. Supposed soldiers of righteousness in an armor of hyp0crisy. At least it’s knee-length, I guess.
Those who aren’t idiots, the ones who have blessed me with their friendship, we can talk about the others. We wonder why marriage is infused into every church discussion; why certain professors say misogynist things or teach non-doctrine. Why these professors seem to be a part of an old-boys club who aren’t really professors.
Okay, so there’s that story of a teacher at a private, religious school who got fired for getting pregnant out of wedlock, and all I kept thinking about was Brandon Davies.
And negative feedback about the Muslim art exhibit at the Museum of Art.
The conversations take on a different tone, and I’m grateful for the contrasts in perspective.
BYU is a good school. I’ve appreciated my experience here, partly because of the classes, but mostly because of the friends. It’s hard to believe sometimes that I’m cool enough to be around all those young people. And I know that I talk as if I’m a few generations removed, but most of the time, it feels like there’s no age difference at all. Times like this, with graduation only six days away, does my life come into a different perspective.
Maybe I would have turned into one of those bitter people who aren’t really cynical but mostly sad and angry. If I didn’t have people to call and hang out with and go to concerts with and watch movies with and play games with, my experience here would have really sucked.
Maybe if professors hadn’t encouraged me to do things beyond the requirements for class or my major, my life wouldn’t be nearly as rich. Maybe if I decided not to risk my GPA by not going to Africa or minoring in French I would have deprived myself of some incredible memories and even better friends.
Friends! What if I hadn’t decided to move in August 2011? What if the circumstances weren’t perfect for me meeting this Reilly guy? Would I still have met him? I probably would have managed not knowing what I was missing, but it’s so hard to imagine my life taking another direction.
I close my eyes, and I’m in the Marriott Center. I’m in my blue cap and gown. I look for my mom and her husband in the crowd of friends and families, and I wave to them again. Reilly’s there, too. Maybe others. Hopefully others. I look around at my classmates, and I see quite a few faces that I recognize, and I’m glad to be graduating with them. I look toward the professors, and I remember everyone who has cheered for me during this time in my life, and think I couldn’t have been luckier, more fortunate, more blessed.
The arena is the mountain range. I am in the valley. The faces I see are facades of ridges and crevices and looming cliffs and majestic peaks; familiar terrain, steady, solid. The reason I will keep waking up.
It is time to begin again.