For a moment this post will probably sound like I'm living too much in 1993, but just bear with me for a minute. Between my junior and senior year, I went to a summer camp with some kids from my high school. There were only three girls and we ended up spending a lot of time together. One was from my ward, the other I'd gone through junior high and high school with, herein referred to as Tabula Rasa--a play on her real name, but had never gotten to know very well. We had so much fun, and then had a psychology class together in the fall.
Tabula and I bonded quickly in that class because it was mostly a blow off for people who didn't want to take history, whereas she and I actually were interested in the content. (How psych is a swap for history is beyond me, but I'll avoid another diatribe about public education today.) The class had the second of three lunches which means that we went to half the class, lunch, then the second half. Second lunch was pretty much the black hole of lunches because all the teachers hated it, and many couldn't have it, so there weren't very many students in it. Bereft of all other friends, Tabula and I began making almost daily runs to the Smith's in our home town for lunch: Deep fried bean burritos nearly every day. Nice. Oh, on Fridays we'd splurge on sugar donuts. If one of us was really in the money we'd get Crazy Bread at the neighboring Little Ceasar's. Only very occassionally would we hit the Arctic Circle.
We'd scurry back to school, park, and run for our lives to avoid getting that daily tardy in psychology. We didn't always dodge the bullet, but we did get credit for the class. There was a book chapter on paranormal psychological events and the teacher put us in groups to teach the class--mostly she wanted a 10 minute presentation on each section; we were supposed to get through the weird chapter in about three days. Tabula and I were assigned ESP and we researched with a vegeance. Our lesson took TWO class periods. We learned that nobody in the class had ESP.
ANYWAY . . . .
During my senior year, I was in transition with some friends. Interests had changed. Boys had upset the mix. My increasing committment to the Church was starting to a be stumbling block between myself and a couple of close non-member friends as hanging out became harder and harder. Tabula turned out to be exactly the right person at the right time in my life. Funny. Laid-back. Smart. Ambitious. Faithful. I think she was the person I wanted to be if I could just learn to lighten up.
Second semester we took government together the same hour that we'd had psychology. Our teacher found out I was part of the debate team and heavily involved with drama and asked for my help in recruiting a mock trial team. I needed one more thing to do like I need a hole in the head, but it sounded fun. We pulled in several drama students as witnesses, and I convinced Tabula to join up, though she'd never done anything like that. We found our two best policy debaters to be our lead attorneys and I ran closing arguments because they mostly had to be impromptu, and that was my best debate event. It was so much fun. Our government teacher basically gave us a month off class so that we could "prepare" for the trial; debate was the same hour. It was a long class period because of the lunch, so we basically spent an hour and a half hanging out at a nearby friend's house every day. We played pool, and his mother would often order pizza. Our mock trial team was great, but it was definitely more by accident than design.
I fell hard for one of the policy debaters, but that is a different story for a different time. The girl's choice dance rolled around and the girls from our team wanted to ask the boys so we could all go together. Tabula wasn't too keen on anybody, and the only boy left over was Jamin' (also a play on his name): the second half of the policy debate team. We talked her into asking him. The dance was fun--we got sweaty and gross playing ultimate, tackle frisbee before the dance; had a BBQ at my house, and wore shirts that said "Give Blood, Play Rugby." Tabula and I spent half of a Saturday putting together a mix tape of all our favorite songs.
Okay, I promise, I'm speeding up the story now. I just wanted to get the point across that Tabula and I were really BFs for that year, and had some really good times. One thing led to another and she and Jamin' began dating. Now, for all of Tabula Rasa's quirks, I have to say that she was always really consistent. Dating Jamin' was the most off-the-wall thing she'd ever done. Of all my high school friends, she was the only one who said that YES, for SURE she would go on a mission. Jamin' wasn't active in the church, or even remotely interested in activity. Tabula liked things quiet and understated and hated confrontation. Jamin' was loud, in your face and argumentative. . . .
The list could go on and on. I am reminded of the quote, "She did realize with some dismay that love lazily sidestepped practical problems." Tabula convinced Jamin' to go on a mission; after months of preparation he lasted about three days before going AWOL from the MTC. Really. Still, Tabula persisted and some months later, instead of returning to his mission, they became engaged with a temple date.
They were married; Tabula was barely 20. Jamin' was a few months shy of it. I was a bridesmaid and, though happy to be at the wedding of two good friends, I was still reeling from the shock of Tabula's decision. Thought they'd been together a couple of years, I really didn't think she'd ever go through with it. Still, Jamin' had stayed active in the church and it seemed like he had changed. Tabula's faith was so strong that I think she couldn't believe things could be otherwise. To Tabula, saying that Jamin' wouldn't change was the same as saying she had no faith in the atonement.
We lost contact.
Sometime on my mission I heard they had both been accepted to dental school. That was probably nine years ago.
I was thinking about Tabula the other day as I realized that several of the songs I've paid money to download into my iPod were from that old Morp tape. Then, a miracle. Or, at least it seemed like a miracle to a girl that is far from "home."
I saw a sign downtown for Dr. Jamin'. An orthondist's office. His name is fairly common, so I put in a local search for Tabula. Sure enough. Dr. Rasa is a dentist in town. I called to his office; the only number I could find, and Jamin' happened to be standing right next to his receptionist and took a few minutes to talk to me.
Less than 24 hours later I was on the phone with a very incredulous Tabula. Remember, we are living in a rather smallish city 800 miles from where we grew up. Yet, she lives less than 15 minutes from my house. Saturday night, we went out with them to my new favorite place to help celebrate Tabula's birthday. (This place changes menus every six months to use products that are available 95% locally. Saturday's menu had only been in place for a week or two.) The conversation was delightful, the connection valuable (Dr. Jamin' wants to take us skiing and get us UO football tickets next fall; and he paid for dinner), and Tabula is as wonderful as ever. Our kids stairstep one another and she also has boys. I am sure that at least she and I will get together often, as she only works a couple of days each week.
I had told Plantboy prior to meeting up with them that I wasn't sure what to expect, but that I'd be shocked if Dr. Jamin was going to church or if Dr. Rasa was not. Dr. Jamin had ordered a couple of cocktails and when he excused himself for a few minutes. I leaned over to Tabula and said, "Before I say something stupid and really step in it, is Jamin' going to church?"
Rasa shook her head and shrugged, resigned to what their lives were. "Are you surprised?" I didn't reply and she just said, "Years 26 to 28 were hard. Really hard. But I'm normal now and everything's fine."
I imagine there is quite a story in that simple statement. And as fun as the night was, I was once again left with disbelief that dear, loving, faithful committed Tabula married Jamin'. Even now, her belief in temple marriage and the power of people to change and her love for him is stronger than the "easy" way out. Everything about Jamin's conversation and his demeanor suggests what has always been a part of his personality: he loves the world too much to give it up. It is not a suggestion that the Savior CANNOT change his heart, it is that Jamin' WILL NOT allow it to happen.
I've spent a weekend in gratitude for my own dodged bullet many years ago, knowing that I don't have Tabula's faith or patience. I hope that Jamin' realizes before it is too late that he has the real prize already, and that everything else is just fluff.
In other weekend news: we had family pictures on Friday night and they turned out unbelievably well. I'm still in utter amazement. And reeling from the sticker shock--I intended to only get a few until they were so awesome. We had them done at JC Penny; if there is a way for me to download some to here than I eventually will.
Oh, and I made a delicious GREEK meal on Sunday afternoon. Oh. Wow. I will post a picture and some recipes later in the week.
And to all my single friends out there: this hottie is going to be in need of some serious comfort after Sunday. Better get in line.