June 29, 1999... I remember exactly what he was wearing that day. I remember the texture of the couch. I even remember the time--2:30 in the afternoon. I have a decent memory, but I have to give credit for remembering all the minute details of our meeting to one thing: my job. His job. *Our* jobs.
Two months before, I had been a student about to graduate from Ricks College in South-Eastern Idaho who had no idea what to do with her life. All of my friends were heading to Utah State or Brigham Young Universities. I felt drawn to neither. They sounded normal, boring... stereotypical. And I was so very desperate to do something with my life that was different than anyone else I knew. So while everyone else was applying for schools and arranging housing, I continued to procrastinate and wait for fate to fall in my lap.
Fall it would.
The early spring days had passed quickly--too quickly for me, living with roommates that had come to mean as much to me as sisters. Desaray, Jani, Emily, Hillary, and Katie. I think it was as much about being torn from them as it was about choosing a future that had me in a deathgrip. Then there was the college itself--a small, remote two year school that had been my dream and my life's ambition since I could remember. No big, fancy 4 year school with all their fancy majors could live up to it in my mind. I would miss the frigid walks. I would miss the peaceful quiet of the Taylor building. I would miss the hot, toasted parmesan bagels... mmmmm....
Desaray and I had applied, together, to go work in Alaska for the summer at the Princess Cruise Lines lodge in Denali. We'd both been offered, and accepted, the jobs. But then, unexpectedly, I'd been offered a part time position as a counselor at Especially for Youth for the summer. I had applied, and no letter of acceptance ever came. My mother had finally pushed the point and found out that, due to a mailing error, I hadn't been informed of the job. The day my mom called to tell me, I believe I screamed and then shook all over. I didn't hesitate for a second, even though it meant bailing on Desaray and flinging her to the wilds of Alaska by herself. Being an EFY counselor meant you were cool. It meant you were popular and fun and spiritual. All my insecurities and flaws were swept away in a delusion of cool-ness. I had bragging rights.
Feeling confident, and with the summer in place, I had graduated, hugged my roomates and friends goodbye, and showed up on the campus of Brigham Young University for my first week as a counselor. And I can say, at this point, that it was an unequivocal disaster. I was assigned to work with 13 girls, ages 12-13, for 5 days. They were sitting there. Staring at me. Daring me to make this week something wonderful. And I failed, oh, how I failed. Every devotional I gave fell flat. Every attempt I made at being fun went wrong. I struggled and wrestled with my soul, and I lost. I discovered that I was not cool. I was not spiritual. I was most certainly not popular. On the last night, as I went around to say goodnight to my girls, two of them told me that I should "do others girls a favor. Quit." I was devastated. I kind of agreed. I should probably crawl under a rock and die rather than subject the world to the disaster that was me.
Luckily, I had two weeks off after that before I approached my next session--a group of 12 14-15 year olds. I approached them in the absolute terror of a 19 year old waiting to be torn to shreds by her younger superiors. But then, something happened. They surprised me. They opened up. They laughed. We began to have fun together, and I began to relax. I owe much to those girls.
It was during this week, fateful BYU 5, that I had been assigned to Variety Show Duty. All counselors are assigned, besides being with their groups, to help with various activities. Variety Show meant that I helped to hold auditions, choose which acts would perform, and be in charge of that week's talent show. I was supposed to show up in the lobby of a dorm at 2:30 in the afternoon, Tuesday June 29th.
I walked in that day wearing the assigned brick red "Season for Courage" counselor shirt. Sitting on the worn dorm couches in the lobby was a Building Counselor (counselors in charge of the counselors) with a nametag that said JUQUE. He was tall, blonde, and had a ready smile and a large adam's apple. Beside him was a tall, laughing counselor with dark hair. His nametag read THE ONE. Well, no. It said DAVE. If it would've said "The One", I would've been spared a whole lot of confusion and grief over the next 4 years, but I digress. Back to the auditions.
Sitting there on that couch with my new friends, Dave and Juque, we listened intently to a whole string of teenage girls warbling out "Sometimes I run, sometimes I hide..." and teenage boys with guitars and half-learned love songs. We tried to be encouraging. We tried to keep straight faces. During a small break, I went over and laid on one of the couches and fell soundly asleep. Dave noticed and, poor soul, didn't know that he was seeing a foreshadowing of the rest of his life. After I woke up, we continued and then finished the auditions. I remember just talking to these two nice guy counselors, and Dave trying to teach me to samba, I think. I remember thinking "Wow, he's tall."
For the rest of the week, I saw and talked to Dave for our variety show duties. We joked. I'm sure, looking back, that I flirted mercilessly. I believe I flirted mercilessly, and rather poorly, with anything that moved that summer. At the end of the very last session, BYU 9, Dave asked for my phone number. He was the first boy ever to do that, and I was flustered. "I'll call you. We'll play" he'd said.
I wondered what "We'll play" meant.