April

I’ve been keeping a daily journal for April which I will now encapsulate here.  April has been a fairly good month.  I feel somewhat alive, in contrast with former times when I haven’t.

I would think that I’ve been wasting a lot of time in my life… but it only takes two seconds of consideration to recognize the transparency of the many “life goals” I might have been grasping at.  They all have a common end: several feet downward.

But there is a goal which doesn’t end…  I can think of two: the preparation of my spirit, and the perpetuation of my family.  Children are a gift that keeps on giving.

But I have none; I may never.  There are many spirits waiting from God; why should any be born to my house, and take my name?  It’s preposterous to think that I’m a link in a promised chain, yet the welding together is to be accidental.  If I was told that I have a sure union waiting in the next world and a certain parenthood from it, I would understand; but in this world, I can’t understand that I should ever have a new family.  With parents having been stripped of their rights to arrange their children’s lives, marriage is not assured here — and we must protest if ever we hear the interpretation that God has commanded it… because God gives no commands that we’re unable to obey, or that require by one person the execution of the free will of another person.  Only if both were willing together could God command them together, bind them in a promise together, or ever judge them together.  Temporally he has already, from the very outset; but I’d go so far as to say that God has never spiritually judged people collectively, but always each for their own sins.

So I say he has not commanded marriage generally, not in this world, though he has clearly explained its necessity to all.  Never until bearing him Eve did God expect Adam to marry.  Yet, if God DOES command it… to US, not to Adam or Israel or Joseph or Brigham, or to all saints generally… then let him command it, and let us obey — I dare not attempt to cover his mouth.  But without tools, we can build no boat.  So maybe my plea ought to become, “Whither shall I go that I may find suitable companions to court, that I may make a marriage to construct the family after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?”

It makes me wonder how much I really want to reach the promised land.

I heard the prophet say that wives were a most precious gift of God…  My attempts to give that gift to myself have all failed.  So then, maybe the gift is not just the woman, but the wisdom to know her when I find her.

So I’ve kept this journal in April… because I like to chronicle the beginnings of hopeful relationships.  But this latest hope would have been another failure too, I suppose; so I pulled up the plant before it could take deeper and more painful root.  I speak of my Sri Lankan schoolmate, Rekha Selvaratnam.

I tried thinking of Mable for a brief while, poor match though it was… and then tried even harder to like Rekha, which was a much less poor match.

…But as I knew from the start, both of them were, more than anything else, distractions to me, so that I could hide the memories of my Korean friend.

I guess I need a couple more distractions.  I’ve moved away from the past, but… I’m still close enough to hear its echoes.  So this is the penalty of facing reality with these two girls: I admit that they’re no longer worth my interest, and I begin to remember the last time I was interested in somebody.

A few more months of hiding, maybe…  I thought that maybe since my hope was renewed in January — ah, she kissed my hand once, by accident, while driving to Provo — it would take another year entire to stop missing her again.

Well, I admit I miss her terribly.

I also know that it was my choice to delete her… because it was torment to watch her through a window feasting with her new friends as I shivered hungrily outside.  I knew I would miss her again; after deleting her in the past, I knew I’d wanted her friendship back; and I thought I could be sure now, after seeing her face and watching her sleep, that she would never let me in… and I decided that it would finally be worth it this time.

So, I did it.  And she stopped forgiving me a long time ago… and I have finally stopped asking her forgiveness.  So, that’s it.

Yes, I’m tempted.  It’s been a few weeks since she finally said she didn’t want to keep in touch anymore, after I tried to explain to her how cliquishly she was behaving.  But she smiled a couple times at school after that, before school ended.  I’m tempted to write to ask her where she is and how she’s doing (though I guess I already know), and to wish her well… just leave some nice message like I normally would.  If I take the class again, I’m tempted to ask her for my textbook back, which I lent her when she was briefly enrolled in English 101 — I last saw that thing in the bottom drawer of her dresser, in February.  Most of all, I’m tempted to completely forgive her and be able to act with natural kindness if I ever see her again, instead of evasion; I’m tempted to forget that anything has ever happened between us, because she hates to remember it.

But… I’ll try to ignore those temptations instead, and just… stay as far away as possible from my former sadness.  Yes, that also means forgetting the past.  If these two recent girls were unworthy, how much more is she, who had no hesitation as she stabbed me through the heart last year, and repeated the act again and again over the months?  She who was baptized in body, but never yet in spirit.  I would be so unsatisfied with her, as I was back in 2006, when she clung so tightly to her atheism; and barring some miraculous change, she, like these two girls, would surely lead my children carefully down to the lower degrees of the sun’s glory.

Well, I truly saw a miracle with her once.  That time, the miracle came because of faith.  But now… I don’t know who’s praying for her any more.

…Maybe I should, still… as the “lifelong friend” she once called me…

Anyway, in April, I have lived anew.  The sadness, the loss… has opened up my eyes to my own idolatry.  There is only one Source of happiness, and it’s not a forgetful angel, or any other kind of angel I might find.  Happiness is doing the work of God; spending our days in the service of his children.

Well, let me continue with April.

I’ll edit it in when I get back from work.

I’m back.  My friend Inonge Sifaya was reading this very journal some time ago, and told me she thought I wrote too much about my Korean friend.  I’d thought I’d been doing well about not mentioning her; and I think Inonge was reading the stuff from January and earlier, anyway.  But now, here I go again…  I think now that as far away as I may or may not go from her, on her end she’s already left me far behind.  She has a life now that’s not connected to me at all, and that I know nothing about.

…That was her choice.  I won’t take it away from her.

And my choice is to write the things of my heart, even if they’re about Bomie Lee, this forbidden subject… this unhealthy, rejected, dead, obsolete relationship.  She used to want me to keep her out of my web journal, back when she cared what I wrote… but she’ll never read this anyway, now.  And so what?  As she was free to kill our love, I am free to garnish the tomb of our love.  My words here are sincere and good, and they shame nobody.  A person’s own conduct is what shames them; and what convicts or frees them is their own guilt or innocence, not any of my judgments.  I have no interest in impinging the peace of anyone.  And a person deserves to keep their journal, even “publicly”, if my one or two visitors here can be called the public.  I’m advertising nothing here, except maybe the harmless truth.

…So what is my judgment of her?

Simply…

…that we once had happiness within our reach.  It was a very good and very rare love, but was at last sacrificed on the altar of selfishness.  I injured it first by mistake; but as I tried to revive it, she gave the fatal strike.  And… I also judge… that… not until she’s convicted by a much higher judge than me will she ever be brought to a confession of her crime.  Like a felon confronted with the magnitude of their own deeds, she keeps chanting the excuse to herself, “I’m innocent… I’m innocent…” until she verily believes it, and curses the justice system for wrongly accusing her.

But whether she believes it or not, she sacrificed a good love — a good life.  …A good future.

A good family.

…And she almost ruined me in the process.  But God’s concern makes up for her lack of it; and now, I can only forgive and pity her, a wayward daughter of God who has erected her own obstacles, like all of us.  May she find the mercy she concealed from me — may she get the help she refused to give me.  By providence, I’ve been strong enough to endure betrayal.  I hope she doesn’t have to.  But if she does… it will be obvious why.

In the end, I’m her brother, and I can’t be angry at all.  And after the last word, there will be no more to say about it.  This entry may be the final recollection of those things.  The past is only instructional for the future…

…And life is full.  Life is waiting.

Now then… April

Well, first… I stopped by my credit union on the way home just now to inquire about a loan for the replacement and alignment of my vehicle’s tires.  My car gets more wobbly every day, and I have no money left…

April 1, Tuesday – Missing Girl

At work in the morning, I was approached by a plainly dressed policer and handed a poster for a missing child, a Burmese girl.  She’d been gone since Monday.  Somehow I suspected an uncle or relative was responsible…  I showed it to some pedestrians, then took it to school and hung it on the poster board in the first floor’s lounge.  There was a devotional at school that day, an “award” ceremony, where a bunch of school nobodies caressed each other’s egos.  I’m sorry I sat through that boring thing.  Later, Tugsuu needed a ride home or somewhere, so I dropped her off.  I came back and had a nice chat with a Namibian girl, Ndeshihafela Sakaria.

That night there was a dramatic performance by the school’s drama class held at the church just behind the Conference Center.  I went with Ndeshi; we were mostly going to support our mutual friend, Rekha Selvaratnam, who did a form of an Indian dance with three other students she’d been training.  Rekha’s relatives came…  After that, there were some recitations and such from other students.  Rekha asked for a ride for herself and for Sudir Sawabarapu, the Indian guy from school.  I took her home first, then him.  He paid me a wonderful compliment on the way, asking, “Are you [and Rekha] dating?”  I laughed…  I said she wasn’t interested in me and mentioned the two boys she liked, then told him instead about Bomie, and Meredith from church, whom at that time I had been considering (later on, I decided that Meredith showed no intentions toward me).

April 2, Wednesday – Rekha’s Place

Leaving work that morning, I heard on the news that the little Burmese girl, “Hser Nay Moo” (an awful romanization), had been found dead in a residence.  The suspect later appeared to be some Burmese man…  She went to Woodrow Wilson Elementary, not terribly far from my work school, Whittier Elementary.

I went to religion class at 10.  At the library, Rekha asked for help taking notes from an American history movie in the library.  I helped her do that on a few different days…  Those are fond memories.  But this day, before I could help, she suddenly left with her new boyfriend, Trevor.  I went downstairs and had some lunch, then came to the library again, and there she was wanting help again.  I told her I’d help her after my work, which I did.  We mostly chatted during pauses in the video…  Ah, she was really a nice distraction for me…  After that, we went down a floor and found Monde Sifaya, and after waiting for her to finish some work, we drove together to Rekha’s to drop her off.  Her mother had been cooking, so Rekha sent us off with plates of food.  I dropped Monde off at her home and then went home to enjoy that dinner.  Monde had given me Rekha’s number on the way home, so I called and told her sister to thank her for that meal.

April 3, Thursday – Speeding Ticket

Monde had asked me to meet her at 11 at school, so I made my way there shortly before 11.  As I rounded the freeway onto I-15, I noticed lights flashing behind me.  I checked my speed…  I’d just slowed down for that curve, and I remembered I’d slowed down a bit on the straightway before the curve.  I had no idea why this cop was after me.  I parked on the right where those two lanes merge.  The cop came and told me that way, way, way back at 1300 East, going under the bridge, he’d lasered me at 78 (right before that overpass, the speed limit drops from 65 to 55 for the construction going on there).  After taking my stuff for a few minutes, he came back and handed me the ticket.  For the first time in my life, I tried to reason with the officer instead of being docile… but he showed no sympathy whatsoever.  I reluctantly signed the ticket, though for a few seconds, I was planning to refuse, or else take it and drop it on the road.  Fresh in my mind was the unjust ticket I’d gotten the month before, coming off the freeway at 600 South and failing to slow down from 65 to 40 within those two blocks before 300 West, since there was this big old line stacked up in the left lane, and I was trying to get ahead into an open spot so I could turn left.  With that ticket, the hearing officer at court had granted me a “traffic school” exemption, although I’d just had one the December before and they had a 1-year limit.  I had no more chance of that with this third ticket.

Anyway, I asked the cop what would happen if I didn’t pay the ticket, and he said there would be a warrant for me.  I ruefully thought that I would lose more from the ticket than I would sitting in jail; I probably made less in a month than it would cost me.  I signed the thing, the dude left, and I sat there to wonder how in the world I was possibly going to afford both the ticket and the insurance hike.  I was sure this was going to break me financially, take me off the road.  I thought about maybe walking right into traffic, right there… but then I figured I still had a lot of earning left ahead of me.  Finally, I left and went to the courthouse.  I asked that same hearing officer about a court date, thinking that I would plead relief from the judge.  He told me to return after 5 days when the ticket had been reported.  My mind turned toward finding immediate employment…

I went to school… Monde was nowhere to be found.  I went to the cafeteria to ask about jobs; they weren’t hiring.  I happened to see Rekha sitting in there.  We talked a little, mostly about Trevor.  Back at school, I saw an Indian couple talking with a senior missionary; I overheard that they were there to meet their daughter.  I went to them and asked who the daughter was…  The man said it was Rekha.  I told them I’d just been talking with her, and that I’d go find her and tell her they were waiting (in fact, they had already seen her and were just waiting for her to come back).  I found her in the library and informed her that they were here (she knew).  After that, I checked the school career center for jobs, and found a few leads…  I never followed up on them, though.

I dropped by Mable’s later and found Monde there with her.  We talked, and then they wanted to go to Walmart.  Afterwards, I dropped them both off at their respective homes.

April 4, Friday – Worldliness

On Friday I withdrew most of my remaining funds, about four hundred.  In the evening I wound up at Mable’s, where I called Monde and then picked her up — she was with Bernice and Ju-hee, some schoolmates from Africa and Korea.  I met them at the Plaza Hotel, the girls’ dorm.  I dropped the two off at school — Monde was looking for a transcript request form for her sister Inonge up in Idaho.  It was conference weekend, and Inonge was on her way down.  We two went to Quinha’s and waited for Inonge’s arrival.  When she got here, we all went out to eat, a dirty place called “The Pie”.  I really didn’t like that loud place, and I won’t be going back anyway, but it was twice as bad because Conference was the next morning.  That’s a pretty ridiculous spiritual preparation, spending the evening in that Gentile hive.  The pizza was good, anyway.  We went back to Quinha’s, and I napped on the couch as the girls got ready for their next destination, Studio 600, a dance club (an “LDS” dance club, as the girls kept defending it).  The Pie was bad enough, but I wouldn’t be caught alive in that raucous venue.  I let them go to their fate, sorrowing that I have not yet found any close friends who shared my values, even here in so-called Mormonism.  Anyway, I was so tired after waking up that I just went to sleep in my car outside of Quinha’s.

April 5, Saturday – Conference 1!

I drove home after waking up, arriving in time for conference, which I watched with my mother.  At noon, I got dressed and drove downtown.  I made no attempt to get into the Conference Center; I wandered around a little and then went to the Tabernacle.  I kind of… thought of my Korean friend…  I remembered all the pages of notes I’d taken in fall, 2006, hoping to share all that wisdom with her to soften her toward the Church; in the end, I hadn’t the opportunity to share any of it.  Then the whole next year, the next two conferences, we were broken apart…  So I wondered what she was up to this time.  Anyway, I had a feeling of loneliness that whole morning.

Out of nowhere, Inonge tapped me on the shoulder.  She and the others, along with Mable, were sitting up on the balcony with some friends from Africa (a man named “Blessings” and his wife).  I went up there but could find no room to sit, so I returned to my seat downstairs.  I fell asleep at one point during the session, waking up during a certain man’s talk…  It must’ve been Gerald Lund.  My head was unusually clear after that nap, and everything that elder said just went straight into me.  It sounded so beautiful.  That was probably the highlight of the weekend.

After that meeting, I went and ate in the ZCMI foodcourt, which was suffocatingly full of conferencegoers.  Then I went to the North Visitors’ Center for the priesthood session.  When that ended, I went and sat outside and watched the lovely crowd.  Seeing that civilized, godly congregation is one of the great rewards of going down to conference.

Passing by me at one point was an old Hong Kong contact, Quin Mak; she had travelled to this country for a week or so.  She was going fast and was surrounded by some familiar Provo Chinese faces (with whom I have curiously never been on especially good terms; Sherry Wong was my only good Hong Kong friend here, besides Victor Chiang), so I didn’t stop her to talk.  At last, I drove home.

April 6, Sunday – Conference 2!

I watched the morning session at home again, then went again for the second.  This time I stood in line for the Conference Center.  I knew I wouldn’t get it, but it was fun standing there and watching people pass by.  Quin passed me again, and this time I called to her (I’d told her on Facebook that I saw her, and she’d wondered why I didn’t talk).  We talked a very little, then I let her go — they had tickets.  At length, our queue was dissolved and I opted for the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the main chapel.  I was surprised to see Ndeshi and another schoolmate, Amanda (who had performed on drama night) sitting there.  I went and sat with them.  Ndeshi gave me some gum to keep me awake.  When it was over, that blessed goodbye, I passed by Edna Clerveau, a girl from Inonge’s and my religion class last fall.  She’s also up in Idaho.  I went outside and basked in the goodwill of the masses before going home.

I’ll edit the rest in tomorrow.

-Steve

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