Saturday, March 2, 2013

I followed him like a duckling.

Matt here.

Rick was my EQP when I lived in Wyview, my first semester at BYU. He’s a business analyst in California now. I got an email from him the other day, just checking in and seeing what I was up to. It was nice. 

He’s awful at keeping in touch. I think the last time I heard from him was in 2010? Or 2011? Maybe? At first that really bugged me (because I’m the time to write pages and pages of letter and not be satisfied with a paragraph of response) but I’ve adjusted to it. In Rick’s case it’s particularly frustrating because of how that first semester went and how large an impact he made in my life.

See, I started at BYU as a junior and a seventeen-year-old, thanks to an unusual K-12 career, and I’d just admitted to myself and my parents that I wasn’t attracted to girls. I was a complete mess that semester. Rick didn’t know I was ‘struggling,’ but he knew I didn’t have much of a testimony.

If you’re a cynic, you might say he made me one of his projects. He hand-picked my home teachers, who were excellent guys. He talked to me at activities and things or when we just ran into each other around the complex. He spent a good handful of time sitting with me in my living room talking about serving a mission and using Preach My Gospel and studying the Book of Mormon (he was an MTC teacher). All this even though I was awkward and surely.

I followed him like a duckling. I pounded down those lessons! I marked up those scriptures! I went to the firesides and the church meetings and everything, and the thing is, it felt good. He paid more attention to me over those four months than anyone else (including my older brother, who lived in the same complex but was mooning over a girl). I depended on him and focused on the PmG and scripture exercises he gave me with a desperate sort of faith that I was only able to muster because he was so solid and so certain and invested.

In my subconscious, I think, he embodied the church. I didn't feel so lost and adrift. I felt slightly less isolated and weird. I felt like, uncomfortable and anti-intellectual as it seemed, the church was somehow still solid, like Rick.

And that’s how I got through my first semester without having a no-going-back meltdown!

The second semester, I moved to the campus Spanish immersion housing and I didn’t see Rick at BYU again. Looking back, I think my whole life would be different if I’d stayed there, under his influence, and I don’t know whether it would have been better or worse, more or less painful. I wonder if the church is true and I would have developed a real testimony of it there. I wonder if the church isn’t true and I would have developed a ‘real testimony’ of it there.

Before he disappeared from this latest email exchange, we decided we’d have lunch next month, after I’m back in the states. (He lives not too far from where I’ll be staying.) I wonder how that’s going to go. As important as he was to me, I have no idea why he’s barely-but-of-his-own-volition kept in touch, no idea what he gets out of it, because he writes so darn little. Part of me wonders if he’s going to try to get me to give the church another chance. Another part of me wonders if he’s gay. (Thirty-ish, handsome, successful, faithful, single . . .  ) I’m not sure I want either of those suppositions to be right. If anyone could get me to try Mormonism again, it would be him, and if anyone would make a tragic ‘struggler,’ it would be him.

I guess the point is just that he is-was really important to me, and I’m apprehensively looking forward to seeing him again.


Related: I first heard Andrea Bocelli while sitting in Rick's car.
Unrelated: An illustrated guide to kissing.


  1. Good luck, Matt! I hope it goes okay.

  2. Wow. This reminds me of my Freshman roommate who was also the Elder's Quorum President. If anyone could get me to try mormonism, it would be him, but I doubt that he could. He wanted to live with me again, but I said no. I think partially due to shame about how much I've changed (good change for me, but bad change according to him).

  3. Kylie, I'm sure it will be an interesting lunch, no matter what. :)

    Lee, do you wonder how it would have gone if you'd said yes? That's a big thing for me. I didn't change very dramatically until my last semester, and I feel like a strong pro-church force in my life could have made a big difference in my life.

    Heck, for all I know it could still make a big difference. Just because we've changed a lot doesn't mean we can't change even more, right?