Monday, May 14, 2012

My Life Story: Summer of No Consequences

One year after graduating from high school, my friends and I decided the greatest thing we could do was move in together. We found a dumpy apartment on the bottom floor of the infamous Liberty Square complex for students, and spent the summer in delirium.

It was a continual party peppered by stretched inside jokes and boyfriends who could only stay until midnight. After midnight we'd hear taps at our window, reminders that "the boys need to leave now."

And boys could never, ever come back to our bedrooms (not even our brothers!) or we'd all be flushed out of the apartment, without our deposit, vacantly waiting for more pure inhabitants to pick up the contract.

I don't think we really realized how strict our situation was at the time, how coeds all over the nation at that point were living together, males and females, sharing bathrooms and living spaces. Living so close to BYU (none of us were BYU students at the time) created a whole market of virtuous living. All landlords wanted to live up to BYU standards to keep business alive and apartments full. And even though we had not signed the BYU honor code, we were Mormon girls wanting to marry in the temple, we went to church every Sunday and said our prayers. Though curfew and restraint was probably good for us (some of us more than others).

We moved in at the beginning of the summer and spent three spirited months doing everything we could get our hands on. We drove to Las Vegas for weekends. We sent our boyfriends on LDS missions. We filled our wardrobes with clothes purchased by our summer job incomes. We went to Park City on cool nights and Salt Lake to concerts. We spent afternoons by the swimming pool. We camped in the blue mountains. We flirted with all types of boys. We went on lots of dates, some really awkward.

And we had lots of parties. My parents had built a large cabin up Provo Canyon and we spent as much time there as possible, in the hot tub, riding four wheelers, holding campfires and sleeping over. For years the cabin had been the venue for our Halloween extravaganza. My brothers Christopher, Andrew and I would invite all of our friends--a large collection--to the cabin for a night of costumes, food and haunted hayrides. The cabin became a background to my happiest times, with my friends, but especially my family.

I suppose my friends and I lived such frenzied lives that summer, our home teachers took notice. They were intensely devoted to saving our souls and would show up almost daily with the hopes we'd read the scriptures with them. At first we'd laugh about their earnestness, they were returned missionaries with a zeal for teaching the gospel to lost children of God. But after awhile it became annoying bordering harassment. If we saw them coming across the green quad towards our door, we'd all run and hide, letting them knock and ring for as long as we could conceal ourselves. Finally, after feeling violated one night when one home teacher walked into our apartment without knocking I let my anger make me brave. I told them to leave us alone for good, never come back, we'd request new teachers thank you.

By the end of the summer our resources were exhausted. We all moved out. I fell into a dark depression, a crippling spot where I couldn't feel relief for a long time. I moved home and reconciled my life to school and work, cutting way back on social experiences. During the summer my heart had been broken, my spirit too. Even though I wanted to, I couldn't feel the love of God in my life--the love my dedicated home teachers had tried to drill into my soul, every day, for three months.

It was in this swirl of depression I met my greatest challenge yet. The boy in my speech class who would prove to be the snake waiting in the grass, the boy my Sunday teachers warned me about on hot afternoons in church, the temptation I heard was coming from the pulpits in seminary classes and nights in institute. The influence my parents prayed would never find my innocence sickly appealing, as if I were an Eve of sorts, experiencing the fruit offered by the very devil himself.