Monday, March 17, 2008

If You Want Greener Pastures, Don't Plant Seeds. Buy Turf.

Last Thursday, a friend of mine asked if I would go with her to San Francisco for the weekend. She assured me that it would be a quick trip (24 hours) and that it would be fun. I didn't want to go but didn't have a reason to use to get out of it. I had nothing planned for the weekend and the shortness of the trip would allow me to be home to go to work on Monday. I knew she needed my help so hesitantly accepted the invitation.

I got back last night from San Francisco and it finally occurred to me tonight why I didn't want to go with her in the first place...

When I was a senior at BYU, my Bishop at the time told me that I needed to get out of Provo as quickly as possible after graduation. He said I needed to be around young professionals who were in the same stage of life I was. Also he said I would thrive being around men who were driven and successful-- men would would finally appreciate me for being goal-oriented and intelligent. He suggested two places: Washington D.C. and San Francisco. I chose Phoenix because it seemed the easiest and least overwhelming.

Most of the people I met in the San Francisco Young Single Adult ward were men (of course). These guys were my age, attractive, most were in their careers (high paying ones), and intelligent. They exuded life experience and appreciation for all things hippie. Really, that's my kind of men! Sigh. I really fit in there-- for the first time in my life, I realized that being an educated, driven, independent LDS woman isn't synonymous with being demanding, controlling and anti-marriage/family. It was then that I knew had I moved to San Francisco after graduating from BYU, poor but happy would be my life. I am a Northern Californian, regardless of the fact I grew up in the arm pit of it all.

Tonight I am extremely pensive and can't help but wonder how my life would be different had I chosen to go to San Francisco. Even more on my mind is the question of whether there are guys in Phoenix like the ones I met in San Fran. If they are here, I haven't met very many of them. Perhaps that's because a large majority of the guys here just came from BYU*, so I find a similar mentality here as I did in Provo. Maybe I just live in the wrong part of Phoenix?

To add to my mild lament, I was at my ward's FHE tonight, minding my own business flirting with all that walked by. A guy friend came up to me and said, "You know, it would never work out between us because you are too driven. You expect the best and aren't willing to settle for anything but that. Plus, you really aren't needy enough." I was shocked (not really). After he said that, I had this vision of me vehemently saying "No, we wouldn't work out because you are afraid that if we were in a relationship you would actually have to work at it and you aren't willing to do that. I am not going to dumb-down and be more needy so that you feel less insecure." And then I had a picture of me kicking him in the shins just for fun.

Instead I said, "Cool." and walked away.

First of all, why do men feel the need to give me unsolicited feedback, stating the obvious?

Second, if I didn't have a solid job in Tempe, his comment would have sent me back on the plane to San Francisco and into the arms of my adoring and intellectual new found fans.

When people complain about how they wish they were in a different ward or location I normally respond with, "We should spend less time looking for greener pastures and more time cultivating them where we are." I know this still holds true for me... but what do I do if I feel I am continuously planting seeds, only to wait... and wait... and wait... for them to mature?

*Ryan, if you read this entry know that I put that in just for you-- that's all the bitterness I have for today :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Anneliesa and Pedro's High School Reunion

I loved high school and I am not ashamed to admit it. Even though I was half chola, half Mormon and pretty miserable most of the time, they were the best moments of my life. I had only one wish back then and that was to be as adroit with men as I was with softball. It's true that some things never change.

Experiences in my life are mentally organized into chapters. Recently, I was forced to unexpectedly write the end of the tragic chapter entitled, "Anneliesa and Pedro's* High School Reunion". For over a year now, I have been holding out for a surprising, romantic finish. Admittedly (albeit selfish), I considered this mini love story to have a happy ending only if I walked emotionally unscathed into the sunset.

The close of the chapter symbolizes transfer of the ongoing experience to a mere memory, only to be retold for posterity's sake. Before it is placed on the shelf, I will tell the story which will help you to fully comprehend the significance of the experience. I realize that telling the story honestly will reveal qualities about myself that I need to change. Some people tell me I disclose too much about myself, and that may be true. However, I find comfort in knowing that these weaknesses are quite universal due to our human nature. In other words, whether you admit it or not, you have been in a similar situation. With that stated, here is the chapter and the tragic end:

High school chemistry was an exciting class. The subject wasn't really all that interesting, but the guy in the lab group behind me sure was. Pedro was a shy but popular senior, the captain of the basketball team, and all the girls thought he was "fine" (a term used frequently in the 90's). As much as I despised following the crowd, I was one of those girls.

Pedro's lab group was right behind mine. I would turn around once every class to ask his group a question to the lab assignment. Every time, I was greeted by his dark eyes and gentle smile. Occasionally, we would make small talk about the upcoming basketball game and if I was lucky, we would engage in fluffy banter. He didn't know a thing about chemistry and occasionally I would give him an answer or two to help him out. It didn't matter though because he was so cute! I kept my "love" for him a secret, partly because I knew I never had a chance and partly because I loved the thrill of the chase.

A few months before the senior prom, I found myself daydreaming daily of Pedro asking me to go with him and how I would be the luckiest girl in school if that ever happened. I got asked.... not by him but by my best friend who resembled "Duckie" in the movie, Pretty in Pink (turns out I fell at the prom that year, showing my classmates my underwear-- Specifics of that story are found in the unwritten chapter entitled, "How I Became Senior Class President").

Pedro graduated in June of that year. He got my number and called me a few times over the summer because he knew I was Mormon and since his dad was a Pentecostal preacher he had a lot of questions for me. We would argue and debate for hours about religion. It was great and I was in love. He went to college and I never saw him again. I thought about him ever year though, wondering if he ever felt about me the way that I did him...

A year and a half ago, almost 10 years from our last phone call, he tracked me down sent me an email. He wasn't sure what had happened to me over the past years and thought he would find out. We emailed back and forth for a few weeks and then called me. Catching up was great! We had our religious debate as if time hadn't passed. And then it happened. He said in a nervous, quiet voice, "Anneliesa, did you know that my senior year I went to all of your softball games? I wanted to ask you to the prom and didn't go because I heard you had already been asked. Religion was just my excuse to hear your voice. Over the past few years I have thought about you frequently... and in talking to you now, those same feelings I had for you when I first met you in high school are still there." I don't remember what I said in response, but I am sure it was similar to what a socially inept 16 year old girl would say after hearing something like that. After all these years my secret high school crush had actually felt for me the way I did him!! Now what?

He flew out a month after that and our reunion was anticlimactic, although I refused to admit it because I wanted to like him like I did before. It was as if we were still in chemistry class, clumsily flirting with words void of substance. We had nothing in common but the town we grew up in. He was now a serious, articulate and a successful businessman. I now had a personality, an opinion, and a sense of humor--which I am sure he was shocked to discover. He flew back to California. I later gave the excuse that the relationship would never come to fruition unless he converted and we spend more time together. Both proved impossible when he said he didn't want to be Mormon for me and I said I would never move to California.

Pained by the standstill, he stopped talking to me. I was okay with that because I knew that he still had feelings for me and that was enough to preserve my self-esteem. I liked the idea of being liked (who doesn't?). Ashamed to admit this, I would purposely contact him so I could hear him say, "I still really like you but talking to you is too painful." Sadly, I used Pedro to help me patch up my heart, which had been broken a year prior. I figured that holding on to him (even though unfair) would get me through until someone else came along.

This is where it turns "tragic"-- I found out today that Pedro met someone, fell in love and is soon to be married. So here I am, still painfully and selfishly single, watching him walk away into the sunset with his true love, which he rightfully deserves.

The story really is only tragic in the sense that it marks the death of my once-thriving pride which lived for too long in heart protected by egocentricity. Fortunately, this experience welcomes the the birth of a new chapter in which I finally realize that protecting my heart forever from emotional bruises will never lead to a true "happy ending". He was able to love anew because he did not close his heart to other possiblities, even though what he wanted didn't work out. Lesson learned. Thanks Pedro.

*name changed to protect the identity of just one of the many men who painfully learned patience by dating me. :)