Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Part IV of Saga of Sentimentality: Spring Arrives Arrayed on a Lilac Scented Breeze

Avram is studying. Studying all the time. It's midterm season, and so since I'm an academic widow, humor me while I continue to wander in the romantic fields of my memory, when Avram's main hobby was myself, and not his schoolwork. (He used to joke that he loved studying the Torah. Which is also my name in Hebrew.... Now he just studies the literary Torah. Chaval. (Sad in Hebrew)).

Herkie continued to sit in my driveway, and per Avram's advice I eventually decided that I should let him go, since I had no desire to spend the money fixing his flat, nor for any other future car repair. My sister Camilla desired him, so I still had to fix the flat so that he could move to her home in Salt Lake. Like the strong, independent female that I am, one week in club I timidly raised my hand and asked for some help picking out and putting on a tire for my poor broken Herk, all while twisting my hair with my finger. No fewer than four males, Matt, Travis, Avram and Avram's roommate Jeremy accompanied me from the club meeting that week, all to help me buy a tire. Once we arrived at walmart, I realized I had no actual idea what kind of tire Herkie even needed, and so the trip wasn't a success. Although I was impressed how much helped I had garnered. I did worry that playing a dumb blonde for the rest of my life whenever I didn't understand something was undermining to my sex, and wondered how fair I was being to ply my (supposed?) stupidity to get help from males. I called Travis that night posing that very question to him, and rather than address my maundering thoughts he said he had to get off the phone and ended the conversation right then.

I was quite hurt by the encounter. Travis and I had been the closest of friends over the past school year. He was actually the closest male friend I had ever had whom I was not also dating. Although Avram was an intriguing new possibility in my life, at this point Travis and I were still far closer than Avram and I were. Until this occurrence.

The next morning I hoped to run into Avram during a morning break from classes we both had. I haunted his normal haunts - mainly the fourth floor of the Library, and found him attempting to discover via the Journal of Discourses whether souls could be dissolved in outer darkness (as pertaining to an assertion made by his ward crush. He later ascertained that the quote from Brigham Young did not allow for this.) I asked Avram if he thought that I had been acting like a dumb blonde the previous evening, and if this was a manipulating behavior.

He concurred that I had been manipulating, but that Guys like to help, and I had just been asking for help, so that it was alright anyway - for that night at least.

I appreciated Avram's honest assessment. I have always appreciated that Avram does not sugar coat his opinions, and nor does he lie. I've never understood wanting someone to always say positive things to you just to make you happy. If I look bad in an outfit, I want someone to tell me before I go and wear it all over the free world! So I knew that he was being honest with me, and felt better - for I knew I had been manipulating. My only question was whether I should been badly over it.

Avram and I then spent the next hour finessing our dinner menu for the Passover Meal or Sadar that we were planning. We had casually discussed doing a Sadar together; not an official one with hours of prayers, but a Christianized, "here's some lamb and charoset and make sure you enjoy your grape juice and pass the matzo, 'shalom aleichem' and all that good rot" sort of Sadar. Somehow the idea had materialized into reality, with several interested parties jumping on our pretend Sadar Plans until they had coalesced into an actual event, requiring a menu and planning to pull off. We set the Sadar for April Conference weekend on Sunday evening. He planned to bring his ward crush, whom we'll call Mina because I'm tired of dancing around her name, and Avram doesn't want her name plastered on my life story, and Travis, RoseE (a delightful girl, who went on a mission to Korea in January) and several others were the slated guests.

Conference weekend rolled around, and I waited for Avram to show up at my house to watch conference, while we prepared for the party together. Sure, we hadn't formally arranged for Avram to watch conference with me, but I thought we understood he was coming to help me prepare for the Sadar being held at my house the next day. April third came and went, with nary an Avram in sight. April fourth dawned, and I waited at my house as long as possible before going to the church next door, but he never showed. At this point without any communication from Avram at all, and not knowing his phone number to contact him, I figured that the Sadar must be off, since I hadn't heard from any of the others, either. RoseE and I decided to enjoy together the lamb and matzo ball soup and fake Norwegian Flatbread I had bought at Many Lands to replace the Matzo that was not to be had in Utah Valley for neither love nor money. Then a few guests showed up (that had never confirmed their appearance, so we weren't expecting them. Then Travis came. And then the tardy Avram came, with Mina, with whom he had spent the entire conference weekend. Her father and brothers had even taken him to priesthood with them, and then treated him to dinner with the men afterwards.

All while I had waited in my Homely Cottage (truly the name of my house that year. We all called it that, and I feel that never has a Cottage been more Homely, nor one existed that had a longer, more golden couch than my beloved Homely Cottage). I tried to be happy for Avram. Although they clearly weren't an item yet, it seemed obviously only a matter of time, and for me it was only five months until Dennis returned, so of course I didn't care anyhow....

RoseE and I frantically formed some more Matzo balls off the cuff, and we all squeezed in around my table, and combined our Latter-day Saint commentary on conference with Biblical thoughts. Soon the conversation turned to what seminars Scriptural people could offer us. Like Understanding Isaiah, taught by Isaiah. Or Horticulture, by Eve. Overlooked brothers, by Sam and Jared. Delegation, by Jethro. Marriage - keeping the Love Strong Over Time, by Adam and Eve. The Seven Part History of the World, by Adam, Noah, Melchezedik, Christ, Joseph Smith, etc.

A group of LDS college students drunk on grape juice and their own wit cannot be stopped in their mirth. Soon we were all collapsing from sheer hilarity over our lamb. Mina joined right in, and later commented to Avram that she liked his friends. As this was the first social opportunity I had observed her in, I was happy to see that I liked and approved of her, and resigned that Avram would most liably date her.

In my own mind I had firmly paired up Avram with Mina, and began to see him as taken as I saw myself (that is, very taken indeed. Unless the moment might be right. And one were particularly persuasive...) Still, Avram and I continued our walks, and they only grew in frequency and length as the days lengthened into Spring. As a result of early, gentle days the Lilacs bloomed early that year, and as Winter Semester inexorably moved towards finals, Provo moved towards fragrant evenings and balmy breezes. Lilacs were every where we walked, and I soon associated their heavy fragrance and large bushes with my nighttime friendship. Although Avram and I were pursuing diverging paths of romance, in the evening hours as we walked through East Provo and Kiwanis Park we inhabited a liminal world of lilacs and confidences, of the dark and only of each other. Our walks still remained our only independent source of socializing, but with three Club meetings a week, there was plenty of Spring Walks to be had.

I clung to our walks, as I clung to the unfolding Spring and to the Semester. It had taken me a year and a half, but I had found an inner Nirvana, a small space at BYU that I treasured as dearly as I had treasured my Freshman year with Dennis. I didn't want the semester to end, I didn't want to give up "my boys" as I called Travis, Matt and Avram to myself (all three would often come and we would hang out together). I wanted to keep the pattern of my days as they were at that moment for always: My three official social occasions a week - Tuesday's Club Meeting, Friday's Cooking Guild and Sunday's Mystic's Guild. I found peace in my nightly trysts with the Private Nibley Study room on the Fourth Floor of the Library. I loved the balance my mind had found with friends and school, reading and thinking. I loved how my mind awoke when Avram was near, how I felt so alive as we conversed about any topic.

And I knew, just as finals week crept inexorably closer, that this perfect moment in my life was also inexorably ending as well. Whether from the approaching Summer with its different social patterns, whether from Dennis' return in the fall or my own simultaneous trip to Egypt, I knew that all to soon these halcyon days and nights would only be a memory. For the rest of my life. All this wonder and glory, all my friends and crushes, all my quiet studies in my secret Nibley library, all these lilacs and walks would come to an end, were coming to an end around me even as I clung to them, to my perfect college heaven on my little patch of Provo earth. I knew I could never recapture these moments again, so I like a condemned man clutching at any life as he goes to the gallows, I too knowing my own coming 'mortality' (or change) clung to them, savoring every evening social outing, every midnight walk from the library, every scent laden breeze and every moment with Avram.

Our friendship had only scraps of time, whether weeks or months, before it would change with my changing life, and so I treasured every moment we had together. Imminent endings have always sharpened the interim joys, and the immanent ending of my perfect Junior year continued to sharpen my awareness of all my ending joys - and Avram.

Read Part V: Thora Has Issues


  1. What a great post! Sorry I haven't been by for a few work has been crazy busy! ♥ Hugs :)

  2. Just dropping by to let you know I have a super give-away contest running this week (and every week) on my blog at Not Entirely British

    Featured today is musician Sara Lyn Baril, from Alberta, Canada. The prize is a copy of her debut CD of sacred music - Thy Healing Hands—Songs of Comfort and Peace, produced by Greg Hansen and distributed by Sounds of Zion.

  3. Thora, I am so happy that I have your blog now! You are an incredible writer, and I'm hooked on your story. I have been reading it non-stop (as much as I can with two kids and a hubby). I remember you telling me a very condensed version of it, but this is so much better. Thanks for some great reading entertainment!

  4. Ah but we can't wait for the summer chapters to come about. Will Thora choose Avram or return to Denis? Will she be happy with the choice?

    A side note. I'm sorry if I made you feel bad that evening on the phone when you wanted to talk. I suspect that whatever had happened was not because I did not wish to talk to you. I have always considered you a dear friend and still do. Perhaps that phone call was the catalyst that let Avram become closer to yourself than I could ever have been. Needless to say myself and Heather miss all you Shannons greatly hopefully we'll all get to see each other sometime soon.

  5. It's okay Travis - Avram says he remembers at the time you saying that since we weren't dating you didn't HAVE to deal with all my issues. Which is very true, and I didn't mind at all. Perhaps it was the catalyst.

    Good to hear from you!


  6. now you ahve me remembering my own college days and long walks and talks in the evenings with friends and dates. Oh those were the days!! i loves just sitting around at night at the park with a small group of people pondering life and talking for hours. at the time i dont think i did enjoy it enough! I am so glad i had those years though becuase they were the best!! just think in 20 years all our kids will be older and or moved out and we can go on long leiserly walks and talk with our husbands again. right now when i try to talk to cory if porter is awake then he keeps interjecting and gets mad we are not just listening to him instead!