Not rainy days but Sundays always get me down.

Forgive me, Californians, but I had totally forgotten how glorious a real autumn was–we had a picture-perfect Halloween, with leaves of every color imaginable blowing gently in a moody wind under gloomy skies, Ben’s vampire cape fluttering Hollywood-style after him as he ran (literally ran) from house to house. He ran because he was excited about candy. He ran because he loved the way his cape fluttered so perfectly.

Sophie was an adorable witch, Noah a very muscular spider man, and Lucy rejected her Bumblebee costume for one of our many princess dressups (see her 2-year-old pic). David is working in No. CA, so I had no camera. My mom took a few on her phone, which I’ll post if we figure out how to get those to me.

I have never seen so much candy in all my life, and our cousins were shocked to hear that my children had never before been trick-0r-treating! Of course, in post-apocalyptic Southern California where supposedly creepy pedophile murderous psychopaths find joy in poisoning children’s candy, were were relegated to trunk-or-treating. I always thought that was fine, but now I know that –sorry my sweet CA friends–it is a very distant second. Our Halloween was something like Norman-Rockwell perfect. I was sad David had to be gone, but we made do, thank again, as always, to my mom.

But, if my sweet CA friends are feeling slighted, take comfort in how miserable I get every Sunday when I go to church, but you aren’t there. I take my kids to the park (albeit rarely), but you aren’t there either.

Today at church I finally indulged myself fully for a moment in what I swore I would not do–total and utter sobbing self pity. Sure, my farm life is what I always wanted–the children have never been happier–Dave’s career is taking off–I have a perfect job I love that is helping us get a leg up financially (albeit just one leg)–there is hope I’ll be able to transition to more time at home–family is close and helpful–there’s more peace, more hope–the marriage is great–the weather–the holidays–it is all perfect.

So really, all I lost when I left California is 1) all my friends and 2) everything that gave my church activity meaning.

That’s all.

I have always been very annoyed by people who don’t feel included, yet don’t actively work to include themselves. I figure if you don’t like the way it is, you just work to change it. But today I let myself be that annoying person for a minute.

Remember that Valerie who, along with Shauna P and Lori M all realized we felt lonely in the ward and decided to unionize? Remember the MEPAF Valerie? The “come-join-me-today” Valerie? The one that just LOVED everybody–even the people she didn’t like? Ya. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–she’s dead. She fell out of the Van en route and her mouldering bones lie on the side of the I-15 somewhere south of Filmore.

I’m so sad to discover that the person I thought I was–a person I was really starting to like–wasn’t really who I was at all, but a product of where I was and who I was with. I really mourn that, it’s like a huge step backward from where I thought I was headed as a person.

I go to church and I’m not excited to see anyone, and no one is excited to see me, and I’m not even sad about that–I’m just sad they aren’t other people–how pathetic is that? I go to church and I want to be useful and needed, but there are no needs–and although I know that on an individual level, secret needs lurk and the old Valerie would go and try to dig them up and help fill them, I encounter too many walls and just a whole language I don’t understand that seems so unreal to me, so I just am not even trying anymore.

And my schedule is crazy anyway, which only made it worse–my working apparently is a big, very public mark against me–add in the Obama signs (which honestly was not a statement of rebellion but were placed in attempt to make others like us feel less lonely, like we did when we saw them in other yards)–add in my relation to my cousin, who is both a decades-long pillar and bastion of the ward while having crossed, it seems, almost everyone in the ward at some point (the strong opinion gene runs strong in our family–just not the same opinions, apparently–but love her I do).

And my every-other-week calling of playing primary piano (which I do like) is made to seem like a real calling, and if I have to do two Sundays in a row, I am sincerely apologized to about being made to work so hard. And while I’m thinking, “You’re kidding me, right?” and feeling so superior about knowing what “real” work for The Kingdom feels like, guess who hasn’t bothered to EVER visit teach those I was assigned to SEVEN months ago? Yep. Can you believe it? Never even met them–and couldn’t tell you who they were in a crowd.

This from a person who had her testimony of visiting teaching unmistakenly sent home that weekend last year between the suicide and the funeral–what would have happened that weekend if over all those months prior I hadn’t kept trying, against her will, to keep touch with her and show love to her? There she was, with NO family and no real support and not even able to stand up from grief over her son yet facing funeral and burial plans? By itself that was an edict to never, EVER forget my visiting teaching. What kind of culpability does that kind of experience give me now, when I don’t even try?

Man, I’m a blubbering idiot now.

I’ve never had trouble connecting with people, making conversation and getting to the real stuff quickly. I don’t like talking to people so much if it is not about the real stuff. I feel like I don’t speak the language here or something–I know there is real stuff, everyone has it. Either they don’t want to talk real stuff, or they have enough people to talk real stuff with. Or maybe what they ARE talking about is their real stuff, which means I’m a big jerk and find their real stuff completely inane?

And, if I actually found a new friend, instead of just lamenting the absence of my old ones, where would I put them, anyway? Honestly, I’ve met two nice, down-to-earth people that I consider friends here, but they, like me, are working moms of four and five young kids and although we can share moments of concern in the church hallway, outside of that there is simply no time anyway.

So, I can’t say I lack friends, I just miss all of you so much, and I miss having time for you, I miss talking to Doris every single day, and park day, and talks while we wandered the zoo. I miss how I happy I was on Sundays knowing I was going to be with my friends doing The Work and trying to lift each other’s burdens. Man, I just miss you guys!

And–I really, really miss the person I was when I was with you.

6 replies
  1. Carrie says:

    Oh Valerie. I was in tears myself reading this blog post. I wish we lived closer. It is so hard moving from a place where you were established, had a great support system, had wonderful friends nearby, and felt like you were needed. Friends are so important on many levels.

    I know it isn’t much consolation, but I still get weepy at certain times of the year when I am reminded of friends in another state. I wish I could tell you that it gets easier.

    I have finally realized that it is just different. It takes time to re-establish and find some special friends. I say keep trying – I know there is someone there that needs you Valerie. You are an amazing woman with so many talents!

    I also know what you mean about being a different person here.

    Reply
  2. Megan says:

    I have so been there, and done that! Utah is the only place I ever threatened to go inactive… But Tucson was also a hard crowd to break into.

    Just know that your old self is not dead. Why just today I answered an RS questions like this:

    “Well, if Val were here I know she’d tell us to use the shower for our personal contemplation time.”

    There you have it. Suddenly the room felt brighter and cheerier thinking about you as we realized that you had left your mark on all our hearts.

    And, after Tuesday… we can go back to being friends… 🙂

    Reply
  3. Shauna says:

    Can you convince my husband that we need to move to Bountiful so we can hang out together again? Maybe have Dave give it a shot. He can be persuasive. Hang in there and I’ll try to do the same.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous says:

    How funny to hear someone write so eloquently what I feel – real people, please! What is small talk anyway? I can do that, too – but there are too many more exciting, deep, and meaningful things to talk about. My sisters and I have perfected the habit of talking an issue to death and looking at every possible angle, shade, nuance, and aspect of just about any issue – usually relational-that we are affected by. Man can we talk! I’m sad you don’t have more easy access to that kind of dialogue – as it sounds like you used to. Sometimes in the vacuum of those prized relationships God longs to reveal himself for who he really is – totally capable of meeting those deep needs without the aid of others. He really can!

    Reply
  5. Laura says:

    I can also attest that you are still very much missed here. MEPAF just isn’t what it was without you. I was singing along to the first music class songs you taught today and was thinking about you. smiles!

    I felt very similar to the way you do when I moved here. I felt like I had left everything, which I had, and had moved to nothing, and I didn’t like the introverted, hard to carry on a conversation person that I became. I was like, “since when is it hard for me to talk to people?” I felt really weird. Here we are two years later and it’s getting better. I still don’t feel like my old self, not really. Weird.

    Reply

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