I ran into Sister French today, surprisingly late in the semester. The encounter was inevitable because we share a major, and, let’s face it; the HFAC isn’t that big of a world. It was exciting to run into her, and I’ll confess to thinking about her nonstop ever since.
What makes me think of a girl like that?
I was serving in the office when Sister French came to the mission. I had barely been out for a year, actually just less than a year. At that point in my mission, I hadn’t really fit in yet to any of the mission groups. I felt like a fish out of water. I had just started to get along with the other missionaries and had several friends, but they all seemed so different from me. They were from small towns and were so . . . Utah, so . . . red? Anyway, Sister French was from the East Coast, was also an art major, and had even gone to the Art Institute in the city where I am from. She had transferred to BYU and thus was in the same program as me, had had the same professors in the same rooms, even had some of the same HFAC friends. One of those friends had written me to warn me that she was coming to my mission and that she was really cool. You can imagine how excited I was to meet her.
That first time that I talked to Sister French changed my mission. It was like talking with a second version of myself. We talked the same way, we thought the same way, we believed the same way—we even had some of the same mannerisms. I felt, for the first time, completely in my element. Screw attraction, I was so happy to be myself with someone that I was determined to marry this girl. And everyone in the mission knew it. Everyone suddenly gained the expectation that she and I would hook up when she returned to the HFAC in January of 2008. In addition to suddenly having a future wife, I was suddenly comfortable with myself in the mission, and from that point onward I felt very much like I fit into the mission.
When I got home in August, immediately the other returned missionaries started advising me on how to hook up with Sister French. I knew that I would run into her quickly, and at first I started making plans to woo her. I figured that she was my only chance to have a future with someone who would make me happy despite of lack of sexual interest. As the weeks rolled by, though, I started to come to terms with myself, and my attitudes about the importance of sexual interest and about my future shifted majorly. Suddenly I was comfortable in a lifestyle that did not require me to marry a girl, and I lost interest in pursuing Sister French. In fact, I dreaded her return to BYU this semester and all the expectations that would accompany it. I was afraid that I might wonder what would have happened if I had tried to make it work with her. I was afraid of wondering if I am really doing what’s best for me. I was afraid of feeling a sense of failure for not being able to change my orientation for her.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when (not at the HFAC!) I look up after rushing out of the B66 sculpture lab and see her walking towards me. She was ecstatic to see me, and I suddenly dreaded the fact that I had chosen to wear glasses and grungy clothes that morning. The exchange was brief, but all of my fears left and once again being with her was like being with another me- I was in my element. But I was also not attracted to her (though she is a beautiful woman, in an artsy way).
So what does that mean for me? It means that I don’t have to feel pressured any more to pretend at romance with Sister French, but that I can still be friends with her. I can act like myself around her, and it will be ok. That’s what I liked about her anyway. If I had to pretend to be straight around her in my efforts to woo her, I don’t think I would like her anymore. I don’t worry about what it might have been like if I would have tried to marry her, because I am happy with what I do have now, and she can still be a part of it as a great friend.