I left Provo with a broken heart. That sounds so dramatic, but seriously. The night before I left, I gathered with Niels, Lars, Lydia, my dad and my mom in my parents’ bedroom. I sat on the edge of their bed and sobbed, break-up style.
This move called to mind when I had just graduated from high school and was trying to decide what to do as my next step. I toyed with the idea of moving to NY to be a nanny for a little while before starting school. (New York has been in the wind for a long time.) My mom and I were so attached at that time of my life, and we both felt melancholy about being apart. While at my young women graduation, we sang, “I’m trying to be like Jesus,” and my mom told me that when she looked down at the words she read, “I’m trying to leave my mother.” (Which she thought was both sad and funny.) As I prepared to leave this time, I recalled those times with my mom when my love and attachment for her was deep and unconditional. I feel a little bit of guilt and sadness at leaving her behind and at leaving our relationship heavy and fraught with the past 7 years. (Even though it is perhaps inevitable that our relationship is like that.) It was interesting to feel sad to leave my mom again, something that’s been a foreign feeling for years now.
I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve adjusted since being here. But I feel like I’m in a state of limbo. I definitely left Provo behind and I’ve paid her my dues. The time spent before I left was deliberate and meaningful. My going-away party was everything that was perfect in Provo to me. Summer, soul mate friends, Museum friends, new friends, cousin friends, cookies made by Erin and Zoe, Christmas lights strung on trees and around the deck, the Bennions, Chris, Niels, Emily and Brady singing and playing and tributing.
We gathered on soft blankets on the lawn in the Bennion’s backyard while Emily sang the New York song, and all my other favorite songs of hers. I hugged my friends and cousins so tightly afterwards as I over-dramatically professed my love for them. Bentley came after the show, and I told him how unexcited I was to go to New York and how much I wanted to stay in Provo. Talking to Bentley always calms my soul and makes me a wiser person. I wanted to be the person who proudly follows her heart without caution. (I always try to be that person, but I rarely am. I am always cautious.) But I was terrified and unsure. (Still am?) I was leaving so much good for so much unknown, and that felt almost paralyzing to me.
I went on a farewell bike ride at 11 the night before I left with Niels, Trevor, Lydia, and Chris. I sobbed as I biked up Timpview drive. The sobs would turn into laughs, and then the heaving motions would trick my body into sobbing again. Trevor took photos of me “cry cycling,” as he dubbed it, and tried to make me laugh as he biked without hands. We biked up the hill to Rock Canyon, and I admired the twinkling valley and the great black silhouettes of the mountains against purple sky. Niels and Chris made up jazz-handed routines about New York and I laid on the pavement laughing and crying and vowing to leave New York if I didn’t find people as funny as Niels and Chris and Trevor.
Sitting on the summer-hot pavement reminded me of when Trevor, Allison, Kimi and I tried to find the sun tunnels. On the border of Nevada and Utah, where the sun tunnels supposedly were, we gave up. Darkness was swiftly approaching. The two-lane highway was completely deserted and stretched out endlessly through the sprawling expanse of sagebrush. Allison parked her car on the side of the highway and we sat on the still-warm asphalt and talked. The stars were big and the land and air were silent and spread out before us. I’m going to tell my kids to never leave a place they love in the summer. It’s too nostalgic and evokes too many memories.
And now I’m here in New York. And I’m falling in love, but I don’t feel belonging here quite yet. I don’t own this place. In a way, I feel like I have nowhere to go because I left Provo behind, but I don’t fit into NY quite yet. And then I’ve been thinking about this idea of following my heart and making mistakes and what if New York is a big mistake, then what?
I had a blessing that told me that New York was the “correct” decision and that New York was part of God’s plan on eternal progression for me. But once it came time to actually go, I felt doubtful. At one time, I felt that NY was “right.” But now even the assurance of it being the “correct” choice hasn’t stilled my heart.
Lydia wrote to me, “Soul friends are coming. I hope you find happiness in success, but I think failure and mistakes make better novels, better photographs, more light-hearted dates and softer people.” And I think God wants us to make mistakes. Not that He wants us to sin, but He wants us to fully use our agency and sometimes He even leads us down the wrong paths so that the right path will be more apparent.
I’m trying to let go of my fear of uncertain future and instead ground all the things I believe and my personal truths – even silly personal ones, into the doctrine of the gospel. While sometimes I am fearful of my future and worry about the lack of goodness that may wait in the future, I’m trying to cling to one of my favorite scriptures, “And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing? And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing." (Moroni 7:20-21).
So, I hope I’m not making a mistake, or a decision that I’ll second-guess, and I hope that I always feel like this was the “correct” choice. I feel like it's going to be hard, but I'm excited to see what I learn while living in this narrow perspective.
Thank you, Trevor, for the beautiful photos.