November 25, 2013

// No Man November //

In one of my classes this semester we have focused a lot on identity. What influences or lack of influences has made you into the person you are now. For me, it's my family, my religion, my community. It's taking a little bit of everything and applying them into my life (or not.) So my teacher had us write a memoir or a sceme from our life that has helped form us. I chose to focus on my community and doing something no one has done before at my age... Move. 

Running from concourse A to concourse D in the Atlanta airport was not how I was expecting to spend my layover on my flight to North Carolina. It was pure luck that I had decided to look at the flight board to check if my next flight was on time and it had changed! My plane was boarding now! I ditched my eight dollar salad and starting running as fast as I could in my platforms and dress with my carry on, a Mary Poppins style purse. I barely made made my flight and was out of breath by the time I got on my seat. Only an hour and twenty minutes until I landed into a city I had never been in before. This was going to be interesting to the say the least.
In high school all my friends had had boyfriends or went on dates most weekends. In choir, I’d see the wedding invites that were sent to my teacher from the senior class the previous year. To me, marriage seemed like the next step after high school graduation. Even though I wasn’t actively dating anyone, I thought, well if the “weird” kids can get married, surely it isn’t that hard. So, as summer came and went and I still wasn’t dating anyone, I moved away for school down to the mecca of the LDS dating scene- Provo, Utah.
Moving to Provo meant I could date young men with the same standards that I had known growing up. This meant- no drinking, going to movies on Sunday (but however, if you’re starving and don’t have any food you can drive to orem and get something at Betos- not that I’ve done that), you have a curfew and boys aren’t allowed past the “chastity line” in your apartment. So basically if you were at a boys house and had to use the bathroom, you’d have to either hold it until you got home or find another bathroom to use.
I moved in with one of my friends from high school (she was “waiting” for a boy on a mission, but still went on plenty of dates) and then four other random girls. I worked, went to school, attended social functions and still nothing. I had even made some good friends with the boys in my ward. They were exactly what I’d learned in Young Women’s to look for in a companion. They were returned missionaries, worthy, nice, responsible, educated and church going young men. Somehow though, my wit seemed to be lost on them.  Boys were supposed to be lining up at my door. My planner was supposed to be so full of dates that I’d have to book dates a month in advance. Instead, I was picking up extra shifts for work so I wouldn’t feel like such a loser watching my roommates go out on the weekend.
As the school year came to a close and I was still as single as I started, I felt defeated. This is what I was supposed to do. It’s what everyone I knew was doing. Graduate, get married, pop out some babies and live happily ever after. That was the cookie cutter plan that the majority of people my age seemed to be doing. It was the natural progression of the West Jordan life. In my world, you went from introductions at a stake dance to “this is eternal” by Sunday next week. I hadn’t been able to make that jump quite yet and was a little hesitant that I ever would.
After moving home, my prospects for dating seem to dwindle even more. What I was left with were the rejects from high school that were doing nothing with their lives- like living at home. But, hey! I was living at home. Did I now qualify as reject status at the ripe old age of nineteen? Had I really become an old made, destined to live at home with her parents and pets? Gosh, I hope not. I needed to break free.
My friends would say, but Liz you’re so amazing! How is a girl like you single? When you least expect it, it’ll happen. Ooh, I know the best person to set you up with- he’s really nice. So, they’d pass my number out like candy and I’d have an influx of text messaging added to my monthly bill with AT&T each month but nothing seemed to go anywhere. The ones that texted me generally never made verbal contact. I mean, these guys could have had laryngitis, leaving him without a voice box and I would have never known.
I was staring at the four wedding invites that clung to the fridge taunting me. “We did it! And you can’t even get a date for Friday night.” I needed to get serious about a change in my life and the right opportunity presented itself in the form of a summer job. My options were to stay in Utah, doing who knows what, or try my luck in North Carolina. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called Mark. 
“Mark, hey it’s Liz. I’m interested in the North Carolina job. When can I start?”
“Well, we need someone out in the office by May 5th.”
(Did I mention it was the last week in April? Well, it was.)
“Wow, that’s really soon. But… I’ll do it.”
“Great! We’ll get Suz in headquarters to work on your flight plans. I’ll keep in touch, Liz.”
In a matter of a three minute conversation, I had changed my life plan. No longer was I going to limit myself to the constraints of what my community thought I should be doing. I was going on a new adventure that no one I knew had done before. With a renewed sense of excitement for doing something different, I started to pack my suitcase for the summer of my life.
The fact that I basically only packed clothes, thinking I’d just buy the rest once in North Carolina was probably looked like a crazy lady running down the concourse in Atlanta. Maybe I really was losing my mind because who just ups and leaves in less than a week leaving everyone the know behind? I guess I was that type because as soon as Mom dropped me off at the SLC airport, I kissed that good for nothin’ city good bye (at least for 6 months) and embraced my role as a single working woman.
“Ma’am, please put on your safety belt as the plane will be descending soon into the Raleigh airport.” I clicked in and it hit me. I was by myself, besides this Mark guy that I’d talked to on the phone. “Oh, gosh. What have I done?” Was it too late to just go home to the comfort of what I’d known? Probably not. Did I want to ask the pilot to turn this thing around? Heck yes! Instead I walked off the plane and down to baggage claim. 
Seeing a piece of printer paper with my name hastily written on it I walked over to the guy holding it. “ So... I’m Liz
“Oh, great! I’m Mark, we’ve talked on the phone. We’re so glad you’re here. The office is a mess and we’re definitely gonna need some help this summer. Let me help you get the bags into the car.”
Although most summer jobs don’t usually include moving across the country, I knew this is where I was supposed to be. I was going to learn a lot about myself this summer. With no pressure from the community to be young, married and pregnant, I was going to learn a whole new side to life.  For this summer, I was going to be young and single. Mark shut his car door and asked “You ready to get going?” “Yeah, I’m ready.” And boy, I was ready.

What I learned that summer is that it's okay to be young (or 25) and not have your shit together. (Sorry for the curse, but there's not better way to say it.) What I learned was that I'm an independent person, that I don't really need a guy to make me happy even though my community kind of makes me feel that way sometimes. If I take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that where I'm at in my life is totally fine, a weight is lifted from my shoulders. The take home message is to learn about your own identity and embrace it.

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  1. This story seriously sounded like the beginning of an amazing novel! I love the way you write, Darling.

  2. So perfectly written it feels like you are describing something I've lived. Amazing writing style too!


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