Within The Walls

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.



Sky said...

EmPo, I think I remember you saying once that you couldn't work at the Center because you felt everyone here was a better writer than you. Ha! You have immense talent. I love this essay.
I have this same fear of "disappearing." So good--especially today--to read a piece I can relate to (except for the Brad part, of course).

Julie M said...

EmPo, you are so brave--brave to post this on the blog, brave to read this to your high schoolers, and brave to write this in the first place. I also felt I could relate to this. I miss that connection. I miss it so much, but I have to remember that it existed because some times I forget that there ever was this kind of connection with people and I begin to doubt my own sanity/humanity. You penned it down and I appreciate it. So thank you for being brave...and reminding me of important things.

meghan & jason said...

My thoughts echo Julie's. You were brave to read that to your classes, or to anyone. I'm curious how your high schoolers responded. I'll bet they wrote a much different essay than they would have.

Isn't it strange how quickly life changes? After eight months of living in a family ward, I still barely know any of the girls my age. I've never looked forward to visiting teaching so much as I do now. Thank goodness for our husbands. But I still miss girlfriends.

iBo said...

Empo, you need to post more on the blog. I love reading your writing. What did your students say about your essay?

Emily Goodsell said...

Thanks for your comments. When I read the essay to the class, I was so nervous that my hands were shaking, and I had to fight the tears from coming. I've never been so happy that the lights were off in my classroom. I told my students I didn't want any comments afterwards because I was too scared. Individually, lots of students have come to talk to me about the essay outside of class. More than anything, I think that my students recognize that even though I'm a teacher, I'm also human.

I got some really good blood essays from my students. Maybe I'll post a few here so you can take a gander.

E. Anona said...

I liked this. It said what I've felt.

Sarachel said...

Empo, thanks for posting this. As Sis. Morgan said, you have a great talent.

I would love to read some of your students' essays they don't mind you posting them.