Has anyone seen Sis. Morgan?

Sis. Moooorgaaaaaaaan. (That is me calling for you out across the internet connections). Where are you? I haven't seen you on the blog and you don't respond to emails. Are you okay? Where are you?


Wasn’t sure whether I wanted to post this or not—so I did.

*Disclaimer: No transitions, mostly just stream of consciousness.

I recently saw (again) one student rush to another who was struggling up the steep sidewalk in her wheel chair. The young man immediately grasped the back of her chair, and began to push, making conversation.

I love seeing these moments; I wish I could see more—it really is love. As I was strolling behind, I wondered why I keep noticing these people with physical handicaps. Then, more importantly, I wondered if I was missing those who are otherwise impaired: mentally tired, emotionally amputated, spiritually blind, etc. I realized I’m often wrapped up in my own little world, complaining about my own little crutches. (Seminar helps me realize this too.) Who am I not helping, loving?

But who is not impaired in some way? We are all broken. Christ does the mending, but aren’t we to be the tools?

I’ve seen His work done in the Writing Center. Most of the time they are the littlest acts imaginable—but they matter. Maybe every day someone crosses our path that we could help and love.

I work with people, not robots. Tell me your stories.

Here is a quick story:

-My bishop in my student ward asked me if I could take a few students to eat with my family for Thanksgiving, because they had no place to go. Of course I consented, and, when we finished eating today, I said: “Okay, we can go—of course, you can stay if you want, but my family IS loud.”

To my surprise, one girl said: “Actually, I’d like to stay, if you don’t mind. I’ll just be alone in my apartment otherwise.”

I was afraid. I don’t have the talent of talking easily to people with whom I am unfamiliar. Our conversations had, to this point, consisted of general information-leaking. Surely she wanted to get back to her normal life, and resume her hopes and worries. But really, she wanted to stay. So, we drove back up to Rexburg to drop off the other students. Then I made a friend with the girl who stayed with me. We engaged in real conversation, sang songs, and laughed on the way back.-

Because I got to know her, I saw her as a real person, and then I began to care, to love. I made another one of those desirable connections I can’t describe yet.

I wish I could take each of you that work at the writing center on a similar trip. I want to know you, to love you, because when that connection exists, it is real life we are living. I'm not affraid of you anymore. I have time to listen, and my ‘hopes and worries’ can wait. They might even be similar to yours. But I don’t know that yet. I already feel connections to some of you, but not all of you. You are real people in this life we sometimes take for granted or treat casually. If I am going to know you, if you are going to be in my life, let me KNOW you.

Who are you?


*Please forgive me for filling the blog with thoughts that are completely unrelated to the Writing Center. This is normally the sort of thing I would write on my personal blog, but there were a few people I didn't want to read it, but I just felt the need to semi-say it. I hope thats understandable. Feel no obligation to read it and comment. I just feel better having it out there. To conclude this preface, I just want to say this is a letter to amissionary friend.

Dear Landon,
Ever since your last letter, I've been thinking about you a lot. I guess it hasn't been necessarily you that I was thinking about, but more us; and not us as we are now but more how we used to be.
I love the memories I have of you picking me up for school, sometimes having to come in my room and wake me up and then sit on the couch and eat cereal while you are waiting for me to get ready (which only took a max of 10 minutes). Then, when we got to school we would determine whether or not we wanted to be there that day, and if we didn't we'd leave and find something better to do. Which was almost always hiking with our guitars on our backs and then camping in the grass while you strummed Donovan Frankenreiter songs and I would lie on my back and ask you questions about anything I was thinking about at the moment. We'd be back at school just in time for practice (which was the only thing you took seriously) and I would go to work. You'd pick me up from work, we'd go find more ways to worry our parents, you'd take me home at midnight, we'd talk on the phone for a good three hours, and then the whole thing would start over the next day. It's strange to me now that I could spend so much time with one person and never ever get tired of being with them.
I've always been free-spirited (I prefer that term over "rebellious") but you were free-spirited to a higher degree. Like that time during summer vacation we were talking on the phone at about four in the morning and I mentioned that someday we should ride our bikes and meet halfway between our houses, just like I used to do in elementary school, and you agreed that it would be fun, but that we should do it now. NOW? I'm not sure what my exact thought process was but I know I jumped out of bed and within a minute we were standing, short of breath and face to face on the sidewalk. From then on it was a ritual, whenever it seemed fitting we'd sneak out of our houses and spend a few extra hours running around Draper. And thats not the only memory that makes me wonder "what was I thinking?" Like that time you and Spence dared me to skivvy down and take a dip in the community pool while you two turned around and waved at all the construction workers, or lying on top of the suburban while Cam bounced down Corner Canyon trying to shake us off. It's really amazing to me that we only took one trip to the ER and that at the end of our high school careers we were only vaguely familiar with Draper's police officers. Between truancy, breaking curfew, and our flagrant trespassing of anything curious and mildly dangerous looking we could be found lying on the roof of Trav's treehouse talking about our dreams and goals for the future. Most of mine haven't changed much, but one thing has changed: you're not in them. You're last letter sounded so much like you, it was scary. You haven't changed at all. Somehow you've managed to keep one year of missionary work out of your letters. All I get is banter, rebellious anecdotes, and some miss-you's. I still uphold you as one of my deepest friends, but I don't feel the need to be with you now. I guess the truth is that I'm not like I used to be. I've grown up. It's hard to explain. I still find myself committed to spontaneity and minor law-breaking. Skinny dipping has been a hard habit to break. But although I still cherish our years together as the ones where I lived, loved, and laughed the most; I need something more than that. Running around in the mountains all day is amazing, but where is the substance, the depth? I still crave a relationship like ours, one where I can spend every minute of my life with a person and everyday is more fun than the last, but I also need someone that I can work hard with, which is something we never really did (unless you count hanging Christmas lights at the cabin, which was absolutely hard work.) It's heart-breaking but the man of my dreams just isn't you anymore. I'm not sure who it is but I'm sure I'll figure it out someday. Anyway, you'll never get this letter because I'm too afraid to send it. Instead, you'll get a response about the NBA, my family, and school. I'm sure once you get home you'll be able to see that things are different, I've changed. But know that although we may never be able to be like we once were, I would like you as my friend forever.


Dear Writing Center,

It's weird and incredibly depressing to know that in one or two more semesters (perhaps even less) that I will not know a single soul working at the Writing Center. I feel I have gotten to know many of you through your writing, but have yet to see you face to face. I don't have that closeness or that trust that exists so inherently in the Center and its crew. And so it makes me nervous. Where, when that time comes, am I going to write?

Already that distance grows as time wears on. Most of people who used to post don't post anymore. I haven't seen Anona on the blog in ages (not even in comments.) Leanna pops up once in awhile, but even her frequency has grown less (I say the last two with an understanding that they both have new born infants that cannot be easy and probably suck up all their time.) Chan is still around, but looking back he, Anona, and I used to post at least weekly when the blog was first started up. EmPo and Jami still post too, but I suppose before long all of our posting will also grow sporadic and eventually just stop.

It takes trust to put your writing out there. Not that I don't trust any of the new people at the WC, it's just that I don't know you. I should trust you, by virtue that Sis. Morgan hired you and you work in the WC. That makes us kindred spirits so to speak. So I should trust you and just keep going as I have before.

There have been several times over the past year and half when I have looked at the blog and thought, "I think I better stop posting on the WC blog now. People are changing. I don't know anyone. Maybe it's just time to move on."

But I still look. I always look. I look daily to see if anything new is up. For pity's sake, you'd think I could let the Writing Center go. You know, move on with my life. But so much of my life, my character, who I am is the Writing Center. When I tell people that I worked at the Writing Center, I expect that to have some deep impact on them. But they just look numbly on as if I had said that I worked at Walmart or something. Don't they realize that I worked at the Writing Center. This place is so much more than a job. It is a life.

And I always come back too. I always post again. I get scared--every time. How will it be received? How will these people who don't even know me take this random bit of nonsense that's scattered across the page? Will they realize that it isn't scattered nonsense to me? Do they know that it belongs to me? That it means something? It is a part of me?

I hope so. Because I honestly don't know where else to read truth. Fresh, clean, icy-glass truth. And I don't have anywhere else to post.

Let's face it. I trust all of you complete strangers more than I trust 3/4 of the people who read my "public" blog (the 1/4 of the people I trust are Writing Center people who read my blog.) Which is why I never post on it. I can't force myself to write driveled down fluff that would be acceptable, but I don't trust anyone to read anything that I would write for real.

So, if it is all right with you, I think I'll just keep posting here, every now and again. And maybe someday we will meet face to face and realize that we are very good friends and know each other infinitely better than the people we keep physical contact with because of the Writing Center.


I believe an explaination and a thank you are in order. Here is my Blood Essay.

Finding Faith

I drove only four hours that day, and when I arrived at my brother Cory’s house, I forgot about life for an hour or three. I was relieved. The past two weeks were such an emotional, spiritual, and physical drain; I needed my brother so I could take a breath of fresh relief.

I knelt on the back of the couch and leaned with my elbows on the kitchen island. Cory stood on the other side drinking a glass of Dr. Pepper.

“Church is tomorrow. Charisse, now Sister Stephens,” he said with a grin, “and I teach the twelve year-old class. Are you going to come?”

I was silent. I played with my great-grandfather’s cufflinks that rested on the counter. My hands began to shake, tears trail blazed my cheeks.

“I don’t want to. Since I was disfellowshipped, I’m not allowed to pray in class or even raise my hand and participate. The only reason I can even stand anything other than sacrament meeting is that I can make comments in class. Now I can’t. Cory, I don’t know what to do.”

He stood behind the island and looked down. “What’s your plan?”

I sighed. “My plan? I don’t know. This is all happening too fast.”

The silence was appeasing. Of all the people I knew, he was the one I could trust the most not to judge me. He walked around the island and sank on the couch.

“You’re going home. You can go to church and do the things that the bishop asks you. You can come back into full fellowship after a year. But why are you doing it?”

“Well that is what I am supposed to do. Isn’t it?”

“Well you can do that… but why? Do you believe that it is worth it? Other people live good lives and are not members of the church.”

I was abashed. “So you are telling me not to try and come into the church again and live a good life just because other people do it? Are you seriously telling me this? The whole reason I stayed on my mission and continued to teach other people was because I knew that despite my faith in it, it helped people live that better life. Even if I don’t believe in God in twenty years, I still want my family raised in this environment because of the standards that will be expected of them.”

“You don’t have to be a member of the church to live those standards though.”

Unknowingly I was twirling a small wooden dowel in my fingers and shaking. I came here for support, but instead was just tossed aside.

“So what if I don’t believe the gospel. I want to raise my family with those values. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant. This is how I want to raise my family. Why do I need to believe it to live it? No matter what the reason is, if I am a good person and try to raise my family in the gospel, God will accept it.”

“He will accept it, but people like you go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. The Terrestrial Kingdom is for the people who live the gospel for themselves, the Celestial Kingdom is for those who live the gospel for God. Sure you can live with your family in this wonderful environment, but when you die, you will be living alone, and not in glory with God.”

“If you live the gospel, you live the gospel. God cannot hold it against me.” My cold drying tears evaporated as my face flushed with heat.

Cory explained, “For eighteen months of my mission I worked and worked and worked, and nothing was working. Every time I met with my mission president I asked him what more I could do. And every time his response was the same, ‘Elder Stephens, you aren’t trusting the Lord enough.’ And every time I left frustrated because I didn’t know how to work for the Lord and do it His way. I worked even harder and we were barely teaching one lesson a month. Our nightly prayer was pleading with the Lord to help us teach more effectively, to speak Spanish more fluidly, to find people more efficiently. Nothing changed.

“Then one night as my companion and I knelt, I imagined a family we were teaching.” Cory held up his hand, his pointer finger pressed against his thumb. The whiteness of the top portion of his fingernail contrasted the blood-filled tips of his finger. “I had this much control of what they were doing right then. I realized that no matter how amazing our lessons were, and no matter how well we spoke Spanish, I had absolutely zero control whether or not they read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it was true. I begged the Lord to inspire them to read and pray right then while no one else was around and watching. After that, we were teaching more people than the zone combined.

“Eric you have to understand that no matter how hard you try to live the gospel, unless you do it for the Lord, you can accomplish nothing. If you want to go back to BYU-Idaho, do it, but do it for the Lord and not for you.”

I wanted to punch him. My anger swelled inside like an over-filled water-balloon held over a bunsen-burner. Gasping for breath, clenching my small wooden dowel, and with feeble attempts to hold my tears, I spoke. “You have absolutely no idea what I am going through right now. Two and a half weeks ago I was struggling to live a good life, and then I mess up. Within twenty-four hours I told Dad what happened and met with the bishop twice; the second time he told me my ecclesiastical endorsement was being pulled. The next weekend I sat in front of the Stake Presidency and twelve high-councilmen to explain what I did and why; and then they asked questions about it; and then they told me I was disfellowshipped from the church. And now, a week after that, I am driving back to Maryland to live with Mom and Dad, something that I never thought I would have to do again. I think I have handled myself pretty damn well so far. So don’t you dare talk to me about how to live my life and who to live it for. I don’t need this.”

Tears were falling freely from his eyes; no attempts were made to wipe them away. “Eric, you don’t know just how good he is.”


“Jesus Christ.”

He waited. “Do you remember the last time you knew he was real?”

I felt as though he put an iron set of football pads on my shoulders. “Yes.”

“When was it?”

“The night after I was told that I was getting my endorsement pulled. I was praying more sincerely than I had in two years. As I prayed I told the Lord I would not get up until he told me he was there. I repeated, ‘I need to know. I need to know. I need to know.’ Then, as if the thought was coming from the top of my head and not the front, I heard, ‘Of course I am.’ I began to thank him for all the people in my life at the moment. It moved rather quickly from my parents to the people at the writing center. I thanked him for Sister Morgan and everything she taught me without even knowing she taught it. I thanked him for Jacob, Alyssa, Megan, Kiersten, and Rebeckah as role models for what a marriage should be. I thanked him for my roommates Chandler, Ivor, Dan, and Nathan; especially Nathan and his ability to listen and not judge. And I thanked him for everyone else too. The writing center was the first time in my life I felt belonged to people I could truly call friends. Then, again came the voice at the top of my head with the words, ‘And I have always been here.’

“I know he is there Cory. I am afraid that I experience an answer, and then I try to live off of it without bothering to get another. I just get so caught up in everything else that I forget and let my logic take over.” Before I finished my sentence his arms surrounded me.

We embraced for a long time. We talked about other things for several hours until we were both too tired to talk anymore. As I lay on the stiff couch my right arm covered my eyes, over and over I repeated the words, “Thank you.”

To have and have not

So a couple of weekends ago, I ventured down to Cubriver, Idaho for my cousin’s wedding reception. Cubriver is a sort of suburb of Preston, and yet it isn’t, because this description makes Preston sound like a metropolis, which, of course it is not. But Cubriver is even more rustic. As soon as I walked into the gymnasium in the stake center where the reception was being held, my uncle assigned me to the table by the entrance where all of the guests sign that cute little guest book that the bride and groom may look over a time or two before shelving it away forever.
Kira and Mark’s book had black paper on one side and white paper on the other. White gel pens lay beside the black paper, and black gel pens lay beside the white. “This will be easy enough,” I thought. Just sit and smile pleasantly as the gentle country folk come through the door.
The guests soon began to filter in. I assumed the prepared smile and welcomed them to the festivity. Their response to me was a look full of skepticism. Certainly, my American Eagle skirt and Gap blouse did not blend in with the homespun cotton dresses that appeared to have come from a 1950s catalogue. As the first lady leaned over to sign the book, my smile slowly shrunk as I watched her pick up the white pen and attempt to sign the white paper. “Darn thing!” she said. “That’s not gonna work!” She then put the white pen to the black paper and, seeing a much more satisfying result, let out a soft triumphant exclamation and proceeded to the receiving line.
My eyes followed her and I chuckled to myself. The woman was older; her sense was probably weakening, I thought. As I refocused my attention to the book, however, my smile quickly vanished. A younger woman, followed by her overalled husband, was trying in exasperation to sign the white paper with the white pen. This had to be a joke. Again, she found success in her second attempt to sign the book, this time on the black paper. Cubriver resident after Cubriver resident entered and attempted to sign in this very same manner. My smile grew more fake with the arrival of every guest, for soon, its only errand was to disguise my profound shock. I found myself chanting inside my head, “White to black! White to black! Black to white! Black to white!” I was mentally cheering on each new guest, hoping that they would grasp this concept, but nearly every one of them failed me. I felt sorry for them. If they did not the logic to do so simplistic a task, what did they have?

Then I remembered.

Earlier that day, after having watched three poorly made films on the Hallmark Channel with my aging grandmother, my body screamed for fresh air. I donned my sweater and tennis shoes and jaunted towards the river a short distance from the house. As I entered the thicket surrounding the river and emerged near the river’s edge, the first noise I sensed was a profound hush. It was a deeper, more complex hush than mere quiet. Slowly, the elements of the hush began to take shape within my ears. The wind orchestrated it all; it wove through the tree branches, played with the weeds, and softly rode on the river’s back. The branches let out a soft cracking in response. The weeds contributed a shuffle as each strand of grass shimmied and shook against its neighbor. And the river--- The river sang the melody. Its surface wrinkled gently under the soft pressure of the moving air, and it sang a song infused with a beauty all its own. The melody was in a higher register than its accompaniment, higher and loftier and humbling. I listened and watched more keenly than ever before, and I felt ashamed that I had not arrived on the scene earlier. Prior to this experience, I had taken on the perspective that the world sort of put on a show for me whenever I decided to arrive. In reality, that “show” is constant. The elements are always making music, and when I do choose to attend, they graciously accept me into their world, which is the only world worth being a part of. It is a world of simplicity, of careful harmony, of singular beauty. How much of this splendor did I miss out on as I was sitting on a cushioned couch, my eyes fixed on men and women in a man-made box?
I left this haven with great reluctance, but I walked out in reverence for the intricacies of God’s creations. I had never before appreciated them as I did then.

But the people of Cubriver had.


I saw four angels today--

I will remember today not because it is a grand election day, but because I saw angels.

Coming from the library, avoiding the soggy, orange-grey leaves piled on the path, I headed to class. The rain that suctioned the leaves to the ground pelted lightly on my nose and cheeks. As I looked up from my shoes moving one in front of the other, I saw a student in one of those automatic/electric wheelchairs, with a blind-dog guiding him on his right side.

As he rounded a corner on his right, he turned too sharply and the thin grey wheel fell off the sidewalk. The chair was tipped; he was stuck--a support on the wheelchair held up his head, and the light patter of the rain accumulated on his face. He could not use his arms to wheel the chair back on the sidewalk. He could not turn his head to shield his face from the rain. His dog aimlessly paced near the wheel.

I quickened my step to where he was, with a hesitant start to help. As I got closer, I slowed down, thinking what I would do once I approached him. I could not lift him. I could get there and look around for someone that might help, I could recognize the need for help... My momentary hesitation and doubt ceased with the interruption of a student on a scooter who immediately veered toward the helpless man. From behind me, another young man passed me as if in a race, and dropped his backpack on the rain-soaked ground next to the helpless dog. At the same time, another student came from the right and briskly made his way to the wheelchair.
Of the three, one asked, "Are you stuck?" And before an answer was given, six hands approached the chair ready to help.

"Yeah I am stuck," he said, and in a few moments he was back on the sidewalk, and then with a sense of balance insisted: "Thank you."

"Have a good day, man," one helper said, lightly patting him on the shoulder.

Then they all dispersed--the student in the wheelchair rolling safely along, with eyes leashed to his side.

The three young men departed, each going his own way--resuming his life, and resuming his previous thoughts so disconnected from this Samaritan act, but now engraved in his hands, and recorded in heaven.


"Losing" a Grandparent

Last year, on my 18th birthday, my grandpa died. My mom told me of his death over breakfast. Oddly enough, I don't believe anyone in my immediate family shed a single tear.  Although he is the first grandparent that I've ever "lost" and dealing with death is something very foreign to me, I didn't find the situation especially troubling. Sure, I felt a little sorry for my dad but the rest of my day went about in its usual way. The following day, my family and I drove the four hours to St. George where we attended my grandpa's funeral. A feeling of indifference seemed to pervade most everyone there. 
Now, over a year later, I have a softer feeling. 

I came back to Draper today for a short stay before I fly out tomorrow morning. While driving around with my mom, she enviously informed me that Karen, my widow-grandma, had stopped by for a visit last week and that I had just missed her. I counted my blessings. When I went down to my room, where my grandma had been staying, I found everything how I had left it except for a few added boxes that stood in the corner. I curiously looked through them until I discovered that all the boxes contained were old odds and ends that had belonged to my dead grandpa. A little annoyed at the clutter, I decided to find another place for it. Thinking that I could carry the stack of boxes in one armload proved to be a mistake. Before I could slip them onto an empty shelf in the storage room, the top box slid off and landed upside-down on the floor. My annoyance heightened as I stooped to pick up the spilled papers, photographs, and souvenirs from World War II. Some of the photos caught my eye and I seated myself on the floor to look through them. In the photos I saw my grandma and grandpa as they had always been to me: frustrated, poor, drunk, rednecks. These photos were interesting enough and I decided to look through the rest of them. I flipped over a photo that had 1949 scrawled on the back of it. I was dumbfounded to see a barely-recognizable man smiling up at me through sepia tones. Although I knew this was my grandfather, I could not dismiss my shock at finding his countenance so different from anything I ever knew of him. I suppose it is foolish to assume that the people you know have always been the way you know them now but I had never put much thought into the type of person my grandpa was in his younger life. But now I couldn't tear my eyes away from his happy, intelligent, hardworking face. This is not the grandfather that showed up every five years or so when he had spent all of his money on liquor or had gambled it all away. In the photo, his future looked promising and he radiated with health. What happened to this man between his youth and his old age? What change him into the grumpy old man I knew? I pondered these questions as I stared into my grandfather's youthful face. I wished so much that he were here now so I could ask him to tell me about his life. I tried to recall anecdotes about his life that I had been told but I don't ever remember hearing any. All I wanted was to ask him what put him on the path of drunkenness and poverty when he once was  just as vibrant as the young men I know now, but I couldn't. He died last year without me ever taking the opportunity to know him, to learn about his life. I felt a deep sense of lose. I understood what it is like to lose a grandparent. Those who have real relationships with grandparents can't really call it "losing them" when they die because the grandparent isn't lost. All the knowledge that the grandparent accumulated throughout their life will not be lost because the grandchild will remember it. I know what it is "lose" a grandparent. A feeling of regret sunk deep within me. As I contemplated all the life lessons that I could've learned  if I had just seized the opportunity to talk to my grandfather, tears welled up in my eyes, rolled down my cheeks, and splashed on my grandfather's boyish face. I sat on the floor and wept, with papers and mess all about me, because I understood the full magnitude of what I had lost. Looking at the photograph, I decided to throw my pride away. I decided that any mistake I have made or have yet to make will be relayed in full detail to those who know me so that when I am dead all my life learnings will not be lost.  My grandchildren will never speak of my death and say that they "lost" their grandma. I decided that once I am dead, the world will have full access to all of my journals, which is an idea that had previously struck me with terror. Looking down at the photograph I had a strong desire to keep it, so I did something that I had never done in my life. I stole. The photograph is now pressed between the pages of my journal to serve as a reminder that I am an open book to anyone who thinks they can learn from my choices, whether they be bad or good. 

Hope or Two Different Tuesdays

I'm not going to say anything about the politics of the situation because I know my political views are different from others. Politics aside I'm looking at the big picture. Sister Morgan summed it up best with her Facebook status:

"Sharon Morgan is crying because she saw race riots in person, and now for the first time in 38 years, she feels proud of her country again."

Amen. Amen.

"Yes We Can."
"Yes We Did."
"Change has come to America."

All of these phrases marked tonight, which I would say is one of the more historic moments in the history that I have witnessed. Though it's not saying much it still says something. In my lifetime I have witnessed things like the Tuesday morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I remember coming in through the door after seminary, and shock as I stood next to my dad, eyes glued to the TV as the last of the twin towers fell to the ground, thousands of pounds of concrete peeling downwards. I knew then that the world would end. All chaos was about to be unleashed upon the nations of the world because people out there were evil enough to throw planes into buildings. And for what? What a contrast today is to that day. Two different Tuesdays.

I'm Canadian. Though American politics is fun to watch and follow, it really is like watching a sport to me. I follow it the same way I would follow a favorite sports team--slightly detached and rooting for a team that really doesn't mean much. That's not to say the issues aren't important, but they don't affect me directly because I'm not American. Sad truth though is that having spent the last five years in America, I know more about what's going on here than back at home. The issues here have more relevance (if not relative importance) to the issues at home.

Today, I saw a million people gather in a place that was the site of racial riots 40 years ago to support a new President. I saw in the smiles of the anonymous million waiting for President Obama to make his acceptance speech, the shadow of hundreds of years of civil rights atrocities and injustices lift from the face of America. I saw in the hugs of jubilation that differences can bring us together: history doesn't have to dictate the future. I saw in their tears the visual expression of the hope that I felt.

I'm not a very optimistic person. I'm a person that loses faith in humanity more and more as I get older, but tonight it was different. In those people's expressions I felt hope, I felt hope in humanity because I knew that America had gone a long way to overcome it's own past. America elected an African-American man to be its president.

I don't know how long this hope I feel will last, but I know that at for at least one night, I can be proud of the human race again.


About a dollar.

Brick and slate and blue colored skyscrapers wall the streets and look down on pedestrians. Only a few people stroll around downtown Salt Lake; a man with a briefcase power-walks past a street light, ten or so construction workers laugh while they march back to a dusty construction site. Myself? I walk only to kill time before an interview. My suit coat keeps me at a comfortable temperature, its warmth balancing with the cool breeze. Cheap black sunglasses shadow the world. I smile as I pass the gravel-cement of a street lamp. Looking ahead, I notice the man’s blond beard, olive snow jacket, and greasy jeans before he even approached me.

“Hey man, you got about a dollar? Just a buck.” He looks me right in the eyes. I look into his face—young, no more than 28; a smudge of black grease on his cheek; a broad, sincere smile. Staring at him through my cheap sunglasses, my brow sinks.

I think of the ten dollar bill sitting in my wallet. Looking him in the face, my smile drops, but doesn’t disappear. “I’m sorry bud, I just gave all my change to someone else up the street. I’m out of cash—I’d totally give you a buck if I still had one.”

“Okay, thanks buddy.” He grins and holds out his fist. I tap my own fist against his and point at him with an index finger.

“Take care of yourself, guy.” I turn away from him and continue down the street. I veer into the first alley I see and find myself in a cement park squared by office buildings. Passing concrete stairways and stone planters, I think again about the ten dollar bill. A fountain to my left shoots thin streams of water into the air, and a man in a khaki shirt is hunched down taking photographs of a nearby fern. I think, Should I have given him the ten? Continuing forward and up some round stairs, I turn left again. How big of a lie did I tell? Two nicely dressed Latino men in beige suits are sitting on a bench, one resting his head on the other’s lap. Neither wore shoes. I gave the all of my change to the crazy-looking lady at Temple Square, but beard guy actually walked up to me and tried.

Moving up, I stop at a crosswalk next to a bush, a tree, and a street light. A long line of cars and pickup trucks blocks the intersection, stopped because of another light down the street. Was that a lie?