Note: Remember how I taught the "Blood Essay" to my sophomores? Well, it went so well that I decided to teach it to my honors juniors/seniors class. Before they began writing them, we talked about trusting each other, and I decided that if they were going to trust me enough to let me read their essays, I should trust them enough with one of my own. Hence, the essay below. I changed the church lingo for them.
Within the walls of my home, my world is perfect. Every night, Brad and I come home to our clean, cozy apartment with pictures and homemade quilts in every room. We burn apple-scented candles and sit in our lamp-lit dining room and eat our dinner, made from scratch, together. We play darts in the spare bedroom on the dartboard that hides behind our American flag. We read together every night before he lays in bed with me until I fall asleep. Then he goes into the other room until he finally gets tired a few hours later.
Sometimes, when we’re both busy, Brad sits on the squeaky couch with me, and we work separately, but together, on our laptops.
In the cool evenings, we put on our gray sweats with our matching man slippers and snuggle as we tell each other about our day.
Inside my apartment, life could not be more magical.
But outside of these walls, something happens. I change. I’m different. And I long to be in my apartment where I’m safe. Where I’m loved.
I used to have friends. I was maid of honor for four different girls because I was each girl’s best friend. Truthfully, none of the girls was my best friend, but I felt obligated to call each by that title because I knew they called me “best friend.”
During college once, I went on 11 dates in 14 days with different guys each time. Then, it was normal for me to go out for a lunch date and dinner date most days. Once, I got asked out on a date six weeks in advance because the guy wanted to make sure I was available.
But now, in Vegas, I have no friends. Thankfully I have Brad. He’s the only one. If I moved today, no one would know. It would leave no void in anyone’s lives here in Vegas because no one knows I exist.
I tried to make friends when I first moved here. During my first week of Relief Society, I walked in with confidence. I was on top of the world: one week prior, I married the greatest man alive; I was wearing a new outfit; I had a nice summer tan; I was confident in my skin. From a distance, I saw several girls sitting together. They were about my same age. Instant friends, I was sure. I could hear them giggling and calling to each other: Come sit by us! Oh, you’re so cute! Friendly girls, I could tell. I’d fit right in. But as I approached, they quickly silenced themselves, shoved their purses on the empty seats near them, and looked forward so their eyes wouldn’t meet mine.
I sat by myself.
No one spoke to me.
They still haven’t spoken to me six months later. For several weeks, I tried smiling at them in the halls, tried making small talk, tried. And now I don’t try anymore because for several weeks, their eyes dodged mine, their small talk was fake, and it was clear that they didn’t care about me.
I’m no longer confident in my skin. I hide behind Brad like a shy child hides behind his mother. I dread going places alone. I dread knowing that I used to be someone, knowing that now, I’m a mere shadow. A ghost, even. I dread knowing that I might be here for more than a year, and my confidence outside of my home will atrophy even more.
I don’t need friends to hang out with every night or call every day. I have that with Brad. All I want is someone to notice me. Someone to speak to me. Someone to let me know I’m still visible. I want to be the same comfortable girl outside of my home that I am inside of my home.