Monday, April 14, 2008

Good Carma

I was 18 when I moved out on my own. I was going to start school at the University of Utah, and since my parents lived more than 50 miles away, I had to find somewhere to live in downtown Salt Lake City.

Enter Becky’s duplicitous nature. I was a bit of a rebel, but enough of a coward to keep my rebelliousness to myself. That meant that I needed to keep a semi-good little mormon girl fa├žade to most of the world while doing what I wanted away from prying familial eyes. So, the means that I used to get an apartment were these: I called numbers off the “I need a roommate” board at the U of U’s LDS Institute of Religion. Meaning, that any apartment I succeeded in obtaining a room in would be full of good mormon girls who would think I was just such a mormon girl myself.

Boy did they have a surprise coming.

I got a room in a dive apartment on 7th South in Salt Lake City. Already living there were two other girls, one named Shaunette and the other Carma. I met Shaunette when she called and invited me to an event called “Ward Prayer” one Sunday evening. To explain, Shaunette attended the local LDS Singles Ward, and each Sunday night the ward members would meet at someone’s apartment for prayer and treats. Although I knew that it wasn’t quite my regular scene, I felt like I should go with my new roomie, so I went with her. I gathered from meeting Shaunette that we wouldn’t be the best of friends, and that I probably do my best to keep my extracurricular activities from her.

Now Carma, she was out of town during mine and Shaunette’s cozy getting-to-know-you activity. I gathered that she wasn’t very happy to be getting an 18 year old roomie, but I reserved judgement of her until we met (she was a much more mature 23). Once we did meet, I thought of her as a little strict, but an otherwise nice person. Not someone I would be close to, but we could certainly survive sharing a bathroom and kitchen. I carefully kept my home life separate from my friend life, and things went along happily. Carma and I had a few chats, but I kept my distance, thinking I could pull the wool over her eyes and let her think I was every bit the good mormon girl she’d advertised for, even if I wasn’t coming to church, or ward prayer for that matter.

Now, remember Cindy? During the time when I was picking my apartment & starting college, Cindy was living her own duplicitous life in Italy. Luckily for me, she decided to come home and, being the great friend she was, joined me in my little room next to Carma. The difference between Cindy and I was that Cindy wasn’t going to live much of a duplicitous life anymore, which meant she was willing to do things in our room that I hadn’t planned on. Within a week of her arriving, she had stowed beer bottles in the fridge and decided that if you opened the window, you couldn’t REALLY tell that she was smoking in our room.

I was horrified, and I don’t think that Carma and Shaunette were too impressed with our new roomie (this is pretty much where Shaunette falls out of the story; sorry Shaunette, wherever you may be). However, Cindy would have her way and was paying rent, so everyone persevered. I went along with Cindy just because that was what I did, and despite everything Carma saw and heard and, ahem, smelled, she and I got to be friends. In a way, we were able to know each other more, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore that I was the good little mormon girl they had wanted. Carma knew the real me and most of what I was doing, and she still liked me. She fielded all sorts of early-morning phone calls from my parents when I was somewhere other than my apartment, all the while watching out for me. She was kind of like the mom/older sister and I was the wayward child. After Cindy moved out and I came back to church, Carma helped me to not feel so awkward at church functions and gave me someone to sit next to in sacrament meeting. She was a good example and great roommate.

One by one, Carma’s roommates moved out. She moved on, bought a house, traveled, and had fun with her numerous friends. Then, a few weeks ago I got an invitation and wedding announcement in the mail.

Well, this past weekend, I went to Carma’s wedding reception. She looked so beautiful and happy standing next to her new husband Joe. She introduced me to her parents as “her little girl” and I assured them she had been my mom. And I introduced them to my little family. We chatted, hugged, and moved on down the line.

Being there, it was one of those moments when the past and present kind of collide. There stood Carma, who knew me through those rebellious, oh-so-formative years, and there stood my little boys who know me now, fully formed (just kidding.). Shane knew me during that time, but in a different way. I stood in the middle, the past and future and present Becky’s all around me like little wisps of smoke. I’m not the same person to anyone of them, but each facet makes up the whole that is me.

Sometimes I feel like I should try to distance myself more from the young person I was; rebellious, impressionable, determined to learn things my own way. I don’t want to do that. Being the Becky that Carma knew then made me who I am now, and for the most part, I like that person. If I tried to pretend I didn’t have a past, I would be a hypocrite, and nothing bugs me more than a hypocrite. I know I don’t have to announce to the world my past to the world, but I also refuse to pretend that don't have one.

I like that I had people around me like Carma who knew me for who I was, liked me despite it, and hoped for the best. She probably had more to do with the person that I am now than she realizes. I wish her every happiness in her new future.

It’s never dull, bumping into yourself, is it.


Isabel said...

Awesome post Becky!

Amy Sorensen said...

I sometimes worry (or, well, just think about) whether or not I live in the past too much. I feel like when I was "rebellious, impressionable, determined to learn things my own way" I was brave and strong in a way I am not now, and I wish I had some of that spark back.

Anyway, I'm happy that your friend got married & you got to go, and I know what you mean about bumping into yourself. Totally get that!!!

Lucy said...

This was a great post. Well timed and a great theme. I hope that in essentials, I am mostly who I have always been, but there is a past that I'm not so sure I would enjoy if I bumped into it. I appreciate your honesty.