I Am Not White: A perspective on racism

I’ve learned a lot about racism in the last 4 years. In Uganda they have a name for white people. Musungu. As you walk down the streets people will call out “Musungu” especially children. At first I liked it. It was like having a name and everyone knew me. It made me feel at home. Then I started to see it differently; I heard things like

“You can’t do laundry well you are Musungu”

“Give me money Musungu you have much.”

“Your wife is a Musungu she can’t cook”

“Musungu can’t dig”

Musungu don’t want to have children, they don’t dress modestly…the list went on. I felt that no one saw me. They just saw the color of my skin. Their idea of who I was as a “Musungu” had been shaped by hollywood. The stereo type I was placed in by my skin color alone was based on what the media had shown them.

I AM NOT WHITE

My skin is white I am not. I am Mormon, I am a Mother, I am a wife, I am happy. Those are choices I have made they are the things I have made an effort to become. They tell you something about me. White is just the color my skin happens to be.

By the way…my eyes are blue. Just in case that matters.

If minorities are poorer, have fewer opportunities or are stereo typed I believe that these are not problems of race they are problems of community, of choices, of habit and even of dreams.

When I told my family that I was marrying Joseph they had ideas in their mind about what that meant. They pictured a stereo type of a black man in America. It took less than a day before they had recategorized him based on his actions, and choices which were apparent in his appearance and demeanor.

I don’t believe that our police officers in general are out to get black people. I think they are put in a position because of their jobs where they are required to make snap judgements about people. Their judgements can mean life and death for themselves and those around them.

If you want respect be Respect -able.

 

Joseph and I have talked a lot in the last few days about this and he says,

“I am not sure why people are surprised by racism, Racism is a tool that has been used by political kings and masters to divide and rule communities and nations. It has existed as long as the human family. It’s human nature to notice differences in another person and one of those differences is skin color.

All of us have labels and one of them right now being pointed out is skin color. But there is one label that is crucial that we put on everyday, that is appearance. People will argue or say don’t judge me by how I look but the truth is before you say anything to any person, your outward appearance says a lot about you. The way you dress, the language you choose to use etc.

This is how I feel about the situation in Minnesota. We don’t have all the facts of what happened that evening at 9pm. We can only formulate speculations and frame stories of that incident. I am black and very grateful that I am housed into this skin color and so at first I imagined myself in the situation, picturing me with my beautiful family getting shot for some reason. I allowed myself to fear. But then I have tried to analyze the story, both from the view of that policeman and the gentleman who got shot.

Once again with no full facts and details of what really happened we can only speculate and frame the incident from our perspective. I suspect the media wants to frame it as racism so that they can emotionally appeal to most of the people. We can fear, we can let it divide us into camps of black lives or all lives, we can go forth with racial flames. Or we can come together for all the Americans who were killed in this tragic incidence. We can do our best to find justice and we can mourn with all the families that were involved in this tragedy, for any life taken is irreplaceable. May the almighty who is the creator of black skin and white, the giver and author of both life and justice intervene to help us comfort all involved.

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My Dad

In our house everyone alwaNielsen Family 021ys referred to my Dad as Father. Even the Mothers called him Father, at least when us children were around. So it was natural that as a small child of about three years old I thought Father was actually his name. One night as I lay in bed my brother Marcus was in the same room with me. “Want to know a secret?” he asked me.

Yeah

“Father’s name,” he paused for dramatic effect, “isn’t really Father!

You’re lying! I said Yes it is,

Not its Ivan

“Ivan, I said the word over to myself and suddenly had recollections of hearing people call him that. I knew Marcus must be telling me the truth. I felt betrayed. My parents had lied to me and told me that his name was Father. That is one of my earliest recollections about my dad.

I vaguely remember him taking me and my sister Liz to the park next door to our house. I remember having his 50th birthday party and how excited I was for that. I remember him always whistling as he came through the back door after work. I remember him finishing his breakfast in the morning and taking off the bib that he always wore when he ate folding it up and crossing the ties on top. Then he would settle his hat on his head and do a big wave and say see you later alligator! Then he would do a little jig as he walked down through the long kitchen to the back door in the playroom.12303_10150150985230344_1710961_n

My dad rarely if ever spoke of his feelings for us. I don’t think I ever heard him say I love you until just recently. But we all knew. I think every one of us knew without question that he loved us. He was my hero and was and still is in my eyes pretty near perfect. One of my friends, after meeting him, described him as a mix between an apostle and Santa Claus.

One day I was getting ready to go to Japan. In the weeks leading up to my departure it had seemed to me that every time I saw my dad he had something mean to say to me. “Isn’t it almost time that we get to get rid of you?” He would say to me at dinner time.

Or do you think we could pay those Japanese to keep you?”

It hurt my feelings. One day I realized that it was only his way of covering up his tender feelings of love for me and his having a hard time letting me go so far away. I went to the family room where he was sitting in his chair. I sat on the arm of the chair and put my arm around his shoulders. “I’m sure glad that I understand when you say things like that to me that it’s just your way of saying you love me. Otherwise I might get my feelings hurt.” He was quiet for a minute but I saw tears brimming in his eyes. “Yep”, he finally said “its a good thing you know that.”

I remember one day I was throwing a fit of some kind and mother had about had it with me. She took me to Father. “I know exactly what she needs” he said, “she needs a little sugar to sweeten her up.” And he pulled a box of ding dongs from the closet and gave me one. then he let me climb up on the bed next to him and cuddle while we watched tv. 149692_449132820657_467824_n

I think my dad always knew that if he showed me he trusted me my guilty conscience wouldn’t allow me to disappoint him. I loved him so much that the thought of disappointing him was worse than any punishment I could be given.

I was never a touchy feely kind of person. I didnt like hugs except from my dad and because he was the only person that I would accept hugs from I wanted them all the time. He would always ask me how I was doing on getting my quota of hugs for the day. One day I was about 20 years old I was working in the kitchen when my dad came to me. He put one arm on each shoulder and looked me right in the eyes so that he had my full attention. “One day I’m going to die,” he told me. I started to protest but he cut me off. “You will come to my funeral and see me all laid out in the casket in my white clothes.” He walked me through the whole funeral finally he said, ” when you are standing at my grave side I want you to wait and when everyone has gone I will be there and I will give you a hug.”Thats my dad. I love him with everything in me. He is my rock.

1002636_767888493221636_1477277037_nAs I grew up and I made choices different than what he would have wanted me to make I have worried that I would disappoint him. One day we were riding in the car. He had had a stroke and the doctor had told us that he could go at any time. we were driving and he told me ” Im glad that we get to spend some time together, I know ive never said it much but I wanted to make sure that you knew that I love you.”

I do know that. I told him. But I worry that I have disappointed you in some of my decisions.

He knew exactly what I was talking about. Vilate, he said, You decided to be a Mormon, so just be the best Mormon you can be and I will never be disappointed in you. unnamed

AS my dad’s health continued to decline I worried that he would never see me get married, never get to meet my children. But he has continued to hang on, continued to pull out of each stroke that he has had. When he came in the room just an hour or two after my baby was born and held him I thought my heart would burst. When he knocked on my bedroom
door later that night because he wanted to tell us goodnight I was touched at his sweet affection for us. I smiled when he held Preston in his arms and called him puddin head. It had been awhile since I had heard him call anyone that.

I know that one day my dad will leave this life, and leave me behind. But until that day I will enjoy every minute I have with him. I will tell him how much I love him, I will enjoy watching my baby play with him and I will know that when he goes he isn’t very far away. I love you Father!wykDibs6NOvmOTTC3Ie7KV3eCo3zUGcmahsy_M-G4Yk,3dCQrrcEuJYpMAneLr7gi3dqsuzXu7FqPZ6qNxlGerw

 

THIS is how it Should be.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately. Feeling sorry about all the things that I DON”T have. For years now I have been watching my friends and seeing all the things, and opportunities that they have and feeling bad that I haven’t had the same. I had one room-mate who got to participate in all kinds of sports and extra activities throughout college and high school. I did high school alone in my bedroom without even a teacher. Even in college I was supporting myself, working, and couldn’t afford to do anything except just what I needed to do to graduate.

I wished I had, had the same opportunity that she had through those experiences.

I had another room-mate whose parents paid to put her through all of her schooling including graduate school so that she could just focus on classes and grades. She had time to cook meals, sit at home and read books just for fun, and had a nice relaxing schedule with out the stress of worrying about how she was going to make the rent or her car payment. She had money for nice clothes and all the extras.

I wished I had, had that. But I had to accept that my past was different from theirs. My family was different from theirs. And it was ok because I had things they didn’t have. I knew my way around a kitchen because I had done so much cooking when I lived at home. I knew what if felt like to have dozens of brothers and sisters that I would do just about anything for. I had experiences and memories that were different from theirs but no less meaningful. In fact I wouldn’t have traded them for the world.

Know one else got a family like mine.

Know one else got a family like mine.

My family knows how to play together.

My family knows how to play together.

But I thought my future would be different.

One by one I watched my friends get married. They each had the beautiful wedding dresses, were married in the temple, were greeted by cheering family and friends when they came out. They had beautiful receptions and romantic honeymoons. And I thought that one day I would have all of that too.

I imagined myself marrying a handsome, return missionary, with a degree, and a good job. I imagined settling into our own home and starting a family. I imagined Sunday dinner with the in-laws who would probably get on my nerves by being a little too involved in our lives. I imagined coming out of our bathroom one morning and announcing to my husband that we were expecting a baby and seeing the surprise and joy on his face. And it didn’t seem too far out there.

Then I fell in love and got married. I got married in Uganda. No one in my family was present and none of my friends were there. We were married in a chapel instead of the temple because that is the way it is done in Uganda. The wedding, the reception, everything was beautiful and I was so happy but it was nothing like I had imagined.

After the wedding we went back to Joseph’s apartment and he went back to work. There was no honeymoon, in fact in that first week it seemed I rarely saw him before 9 pm. Next thing I knew I was squatting in a dark dingy outhouse trying to pee into a tiny dirty cup while keeping a terrified eye on the many cockroaches by the light that the small crack in the door afforded. I prayed the test would be negative. Not because I didn’t want to be pregnant but because I didn’t want to find out in this way.

“Hey!” the doc shouted from the other room. “Do you guys want to know the results of the test?” Joseph and I stood by expectantly. “It’s negative, there is nothing there.” the doctor said callously. “Now where is my money?”

Joseph paid and we left.

We found out later that we were in fact pregnant and the situation surrounding that test was much better. As I became sick and then returned home to carry the baby and prepare for its birth here I started feeling really bad about all the things that I didn’t have.

I watched my friends with their husbands and it didn’t seem fair. As the pregnancy progressed and I heard the heart beat, saw the ultra sound all with out Joseph, I felt sorry for myself. When I continued to get bigger and the weeks went by one at a time and I realized that Joseph was going to miss all of it. I wanted to cry. When we passed our six month anniversary I felt cheated. I wanted to spend my first year of marriage with my husband. I wanted him to get to experience all these things with me and I wanted time with him before our baby was born. I see my pregnant friends resting and focusing on taking care of themselves and their babies, and I am doing 13 credits of school and working trying to support myself, prepare for our baby, pay visa fees, and plan for our future on my own.

When we were denied the visitors visa and I realized that I would give birth to this baby without him and might not see him in a very long time I felt abandoned and a little angry.

But today I don’t feel any of those things. I realized today that all those things are hard because I am comparing my circumstances to others. I am looking at what other people have and assuming that somehow I deserve the same things. I realized that it’s all part of a package. I can’t demand all the same things my friends had growing up without giving up my own upbringing. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world. All the financial support and extra curricular activities in the world would never match up to what my family gave me.

You can't replace family.

You can’t replace family.

And they mean the world to me.

And they mean the world to me.

I couldn't possibly trade any of it.

I couldn’t possibly trade any of it.

The path I am walking now with Joseph comes as a package as well. Our experiences in Uganda, the sweet love letters that my husband and I write to each other on a regular basis, the strength and experience we have gained from this separation, everything about our marriage and our lives together is ours. It all comes together, the good with the bad.

Joseph and i chose to start a life together.

Joseph and i chose to start a life together.

And when you stop looking at others and thinking about what SHOULD be. You can start to see the beauty of what IS. So when I do see my husband again, and have the opportunity to place our first-born child in his arms, I will know that this is OUR experience and that THIS is how it SHOULD be.

My Whirlwind Romance Part X My Wedding Day! “Its not over, its just the beginning”

When I decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a long hard year making that decision. On the day of my baptism as the meeting ended, I stood at the bottom of the stairs in the chapel, my hair still wet from the font and I shook hands with one of the most influential people in my life. “Well, I did it. It’s over I said.” Brother B looked at me with something in his eyes, I saw happiness, I saw that he was proud of me, I saw support and tenderness, and I could swear I saw a glint of humor. Was he laughing at my stupidity? Smiling at my naivete, or just smirking with the knowledge that he knew something that I didn’t?

“Vilate he said, It’s not over, it’s just beginning.”

I planned my whole wedding down to the tiniest detail when I was about 10 years old. Sure my opinions and desires changed over the years, but I kept it updated I was prepared at any given moment to put on the wedding of my dreams in about two weeks flat. I had everything primed and ready, like dominoes all set so that when the time came all I would have to do is push that first one and things would fly into motion.

That wasn’t because I wanted to plan my wedding in two weeks. It was just because I was so excited for it that I couldn’t help but do everything to prepare that could possibly be done before you’ve actually met the man of your dreams. That and that I’m a planner. I just enjoy the whole process.

So when Joseph and I decided to change our plans and get married before I left Uganda, I felt I was up for the challenge. It actually meant that I would be planning the wedding in two weeks, but I was ready. Since the wedding would be taking place in Uganda it meant some minor (cough, cough sputter) changes to my plans but nothing I wasn’t prepared to handle.

What I wasn’t prepared for was Joseph’s family. they had ideas, they had traditions, and they had culture that COULDN’T be messed with. Normally I am the kind of person that when I am told that I “shouldn’t or can’t” do something…well thats the first thing I am going to attempt to do. And I usually succeed… or fail depending on how you look at it.

Before I had a chance to say “boo” they had taken the whole affair into their hands, and the wedding was planned.

We had tents set up in Uncle’s yard, there were tables and chairs with embroidered cloths, there were ribbons and decorations. There was food prepared, and the word was spread. Literally before I hardly knew what had happened the whole thing was planned.

It was a little hard, seeing it all taken out of my hands, and I wanted to protest, and did a couple of times, but realized that by this time I needed to just let it go.

As the plans progressed Joseph begged me to be sure. He sensed my hesitation and fear at the step we were about to take. “Vilate, he told me one day, my family is starting to travel in from all over Uganda to be here for our wedding in just a few days, if you are going to change your mind, please do it now.”

I didn’t know what to say, I felt good about progressing I felt good about the steps we were taking, I knew I loved Joseph, but I still didn’t “know” that it was the right thing for me. We met with the new Mission President and begged for counsel. “The only person who can answer your questions is the Lord,” President Chatfield told us. You need to take it to him and that’s all I can tell you.

He left and Joseph and I knelt, he took both of my hands in his and we prayed. As we did, I felt like a little girl again, listening to the deepening tones of my dad’s reverent voice as he prayed. I felt so loved and protected and like I could face anything that could come my way. I felt trust and love for Joseph like I had always felt for my dad. I thought about having children with him and how I felt confident that my children would look up to him with love and respect the way I had with my own father, and I knew that I would trust and respect him and support him in that role as well.

I felt peace completely surround me. And then I thought. I am getting married in two days to a man I have known for a matter of weeks! A man who no one in my family and none of my friends had ever met, I was marrying him in Uganda, in a strange country, completely alone and with out support. I was marrying a black man! In spite of how I had always felt and what I had believed about them. I was marrying a man much younger than I was, from an entirely different background and culture. Even his first language was different from mine. I had every reason to be panicked. I had every reason to feel overwhelmed and lost. But I didn’t. I felt loved, protected, secure, and filled with peace. I knew those feelings could only come at a time like this, so powerfully as to over come all other feelings, from one source. It was the final answer that I needed. The Lord approved, he was here in this very room helping me at this moment. And I knew everything would be ok.

When Joseph finished the prayer I looked into his eyes hugged him and told him that I was ok. I knew we were making the right decision and that I was not going to back out.

The day before the wedding I only saw Joseph for a few minutes in the afternoon. He took a break from setting up tents and chairs and making arrangements to come be with me for an hour or so. When we first started dating Joseph and I had set a couple of firm rules for ourselves to help us to make sure that we kept the standards that we believed in regards to physical intimacy being saved for marriage.

Some of these rules were that we would never kiss lying down, we would save passionate kissing and necking for after marriage and we would never spend the night together in the same home by ourselves. It was so nice to be approaching our marriage the following day knowing that we had stayed true to our convictions and had kept the rules that we made for ourselves. We had told no one of these rules and there was no one to judge if we broke them, but we knew and it felt good.

That afternoon as we spent our last few moments together still “limited” by these rules and yet aware that our marriage the following day would change everything, we spoke to each other with loving words and I felt that my heart would burst with Love for him. I had no desire to do anything that would damage the special feeling that “waiting” had created between us. We held each other, talked of our plans for the future, and savored these final moments together as single people.

Later that night, Joseph’s sister Tinah met me at the hotel where we would be spending the night. She brought, my wedding dress with her, and all was set.

The following day after a much-needed and incredibly enjoyable hot shower, Melissa, my only friend from the states who was there came and did my hair for me. I went to a salon and got my nails done and then waited patiently for the car to arrive to pick me up. I had warned everyone that my wedding would start on time! When the time came for the car to arrive to pick me and my brides maids up to take us to the church I was ready and waiting. No car showed up and the minutes ticked away.

Finally I gathered my full skirts in my hand and told Tinah, “Im leaving. If I have to take a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to the church I will but I am going to the church right now!” Tinah was frantic, you can’t do that she told me!

“Watch me I said cause I’m doing it.”

She tried to call Joseph as I headed down the hallway squeezing my dress between the narrow doorways.

When I reached the curb the car was just pulling up. We piled into the car, and headed to the church. The page-boy and flower girl, Joseph’s niece and nephew sat on either side of me. They were enthralled with the idea of having a new white “mother.” In Uganda the children refer the their aunts and uncles as mother and father. So I was now Mommy Vilate (although when the children said it, it sounded a lot more like Mommy Violent, and I hoped it wasn’t a prediction of the kind of mother I would be!) 1148794_10151529135790658_775137388_n

They wanted to touch my hair and my skin, they sat quietly and shyly next to me. We arrived at the church about the time the wedding was supposed to start and I was like a crazy woman trying to get in to the chapel to make sure things happened just the way I wanted. Life rarely happens the way we want, you would think I would have figured that out by now and quit trying to control every little detail, but for some reason I wasn’t willing to just sit back and let this day happen. I wanted it to happen the way I wanted it to be. DSCF1427

Joseph and I met in the hallway, My veil was over my face and through it he looked fuzzy and white. And oh so handsome in his dark suit and yellow tie. His eyes glowed in appreciation as he looked at me and he didn’t need to say anything, his eyes said it all. We posed for a few pictures together and then went to the chapel for the wedding. DSCF1431

Every seat in the chapel was full, and some were even standing, but I didn’t notice. I was frantically trying to get my family on skype and get things ready so that we could start. I was way too excited that my wedding day had finally arrived to be shy or nervous.

JInja Chapel, where Joseph and I were married.

JInja Chapel, where Joseph and I were married.

I finally got my family on skype and after a quick wave to their sleepy faces (it was 3 AM their time) the ceremony started. They started by singing a song that had always been a sore spot with me. And was especially so on this day.

trying to get my family on skype

trying to get my family on skype

Families Can Be Together Forever

I sat there trying not to think about my mom and my sisters watching silently over skype as I took this step. I tried not to think of the spiritual, temporal and physical separation as what I was doing further widened the gap between my family and I. I tried not to think of my own father who I loved so dearly, not even able to be there on this most important day for me. It didn’t work and before I knew it I was sobbing and gasping for breath in my fitted dress. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably.

Finally the song ended and the branch president spoke for a few minutes. When he finished he asked Joseph and I to stand, we stood facing each other and holding hands. Joseph’s head was down and I longed to see his eyes. I wanted to see if he was still sure, I wanted to see the love that I knew would be reflected there. He didn’t look at me. As the Branch President spoke I leaned down a little trying to catch his eye. It worked for a second, just long enough for me to see that he was really nervous.

When it came time for him to say Yes, he did and when it was my turn I said it, wishing it was a longer word, or that there was some way to capture the significance of the moment. Then, it was done we were married, Joseph kissed me for the first time as his wife and we headed for the door with his family and friends yelling and shrieking behind us in the unique way that women in Uganda celebrate the marriages of their loved ones. DSCF1438

As we stood outside the church taking photos with friends and family, I couldn’t stop smiling, the peace and contentment that I had felt in the last few days leading up to this day remained and was intensified by the contentment of knowing that I was finally married. I didn’t feel a rush to get through the reception, I didn’t feel anxiety about anything. All I felt was utter and complete contentment in that moment. Joseph squeezed my hand and I wondered if I would ever again need to see any face besides his.

Joseph's family

Joseph’s family

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When the pictures finished we moved on to the reception. DSCF3281As the day progressed there were moments of surprise when something didn’t happen the way we wanted it to, there were moments of frustration where too many people were telling us what to do, where to stand, where to look, too many hands were pulling, hugging, fixing this or that. Music was playing to loudly and too long And for a few seconds I thought I would scream. Then the moment would pass and the contentment would flood in again and I would remember that it was my wedding day, a day that would never come again, a day I had waited 32 long years for. DSCF3288

This cycle of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and being so in love and reveling in the joy and the beauty of the day continued. As Joseph and I sat front and center at a table beautifully decorated for us, surrounded by hundreds of people who had come to celebrate with us, I felt that life couldn’t get any better, and as my head pounded with the noise and the craziness of the day as the hours wore on I turned to Joseph, “I can’t do this, anymore” I told him. DSCF3297 DSCF3341

“You have to deal with it, its as simple as that” he answered, smiling yet again as someone else hugged us and someone else pulled on our arms trying to tell us that we need to speak, or take a picture, or accept a gift.

we had out first dance together

we had out first dance together

we said a few words to our guests

we said a few words to our guests

and we cut the cake

and we cut the cake

Finally I had truly had enough, The music was pounding in my head and all around me and my large personal space bubble had been invaded one too many times. I wanted to scream and run away from it all. Someone was yelling in our ears, trying to be heard over the music, telling us what to do and someone else was contradicting them in the other ear. I gathered my skirts in my hands and walked as fast as I could toward the road, leaving Joseph and everyone else behind.

I didn’t know what I planned to do when I got out of the yard and to the road, I just knew that I couldn’t take one more minute. Joseph ran up behind me, shouting for someone to bring the car. He seemed angry with me. We are going right now he told me. We got in the car with three of Joseph’s friends and drove out of the yard. Just as we were pulling out on to the road I remembered that my clothes, everything except my wedding dress was in a suitcase with Tinah. Joseph, we have to go back, I said, I need my suitcase. Again he seemed upset but drove back. I tried to get out of the car to go get it. Joseph told me to stay put and he would get it for me. I couldn’t very well tell him in front of his friends that I needed Tinah’s help to help me out of my dress and into something more romantic underneath for our wedding night. And Joseph wasn’t listening besides. “Would you just stay here!” His voice was harsh and angry sounding, something I had never heard from him before.

I was mad that his friends were in the car with us, mad that the reception had ended the way it had and madder still that my husband had been gruff with me.

I sat on my side of the car with my dress piled around me. Ignoring Joseph and his friends as they talked. They unloaded our gifts at our apartment and then took us back to the hotel where we would spend the night. We unloaded our things and they left. I sat on the bed furious and near tears.

Joseph came into the room after seeing the boys off. His smile back on his face and his eyes happy as though nothing had happened. He walked to me and put his arms around me. I pushed him away. He was not going to pretend that nothing had happened!

Before I knew what was even happening I was seated on one side of the bed and Joseph on the other, our backs were to each other and the gulf between us seemed unbreachable. I looked around to see if there was a tree near the window, thinking ironically of the scene from 7 brides for 7 brothers where Millie dooms her new husband to sleep in the tree on the night of their wedding. Is that how this night was going to end?

I felt stuck and I didn’t know who to even blame! Technically the only thing Joseph had really done to make me angry was to get a little short with me. The only thing that anyone else had done to make me angry was to try to make my wedding day perfect. I didn’t know why I was so mad and I didn’t know how to fix it. I wanted things to be good between Joseph and I but I felt like just ignoring how I was feeling would just put a band-aid over the issue.

I closed my eyes and said a little prayer. Father, I prayed, I feel like this is my fault. Can you show me how to fix it?

“You can start by getting on the same side of the bed.” The thought came clearly to my mind and should have been a no brainer. Joseph, I said, meekly. Will you come sit by me?

He did, his head down and tears brimming in his eyes. “I wanted this day to be perfect for you, I worked so hard to make it perfect, but I failed.”

I couldn’t lie and tell him that it had been perfect. I was too honest a person for that and he would see right through me and it would mean nothing. I sat silently for a few minutes. I thought again of another story, this time from a book instead of a movie. In the work and the glory, shortly after a young couple marries, the husband is feeling dejected because he sees the conditions his wife is living in and feels that he is putting her through too much. She sees what her complaining has done and fixes it by finding things to be grateful for and the two end up laughing over their own difficulties. It gave me an idea.

“I loved seeing your face when I first walked into the church” I told him. “And I loved that I got to make my own wedding cake, I loved that there was some African culture and tradition in our wedding as we walked through the little arbor decorated with ribbon and flowers and cut the ribbon that symbolized the official beginning of our wedding reception.” What did you like best? I asked DSCF3287 DSCF3290

He looked at me a little confused. ” I liked when the Casperson’s gave us a picture of the Joburg temple and the letter confirming the dates of our sealing” DSCF3338

“Oh and I loved when your mother told me that I was her daughter now!” I said, the feeling of making a game out of this catching on.

We layed back on the bed looking up at the ceiling and recounting our favorite parts of the day. Soon we were laughing and it didn’t feel fake anymore to pretend that everything was alright. It was in fact truly alright. Whatever petty things had left me feeling disgruntled about the day were gone. I turned to Joseph, as far as I see it there are only three things that needed to happen today to make it perfect, I said. You and I need to have made covenants with each other, you need to be happy and I need to be happy. As long as those three things happen, this day is a success in my opinion. So the first one happened. And I’m happy, so how about you? I asked, “Are you happy”

“I am” he smiled then you succeeded, you made our wedding day, perfect. I told him, meaning every word.

He kissed me and bridged the final steps in the huge gulf that had separated us just moments before.

And so my whirlwind romance turned into a marriage. A marriage that would see, difficult times, a few arguments here and there, a baby sooner than anyone could have expected, and a separation that would only increase our love for each other.  Who knows what still lies in store for us. Because just as Brother B had told me years before, this is not the end, it is only the beginning! DSCF3325

Shame on singlehood!

I had planned to write another piece following up on my last post about Polygamy and Mormon’s. And then I went to work and I sat talking for a while with a man who has been married for almost 50 years to the same woman. He was giving me a little fatherly advice on dating and marriage and such. I was happy and quite content when the conversation started and while I know he meant well, by the end of the conversation I was feeling more than a little sad.

Not the down and out I hate my life and wish someone would roll over me with an 18 wheeler kind of sad. Not even the I need to sit in my room with a box of tissues and an even bigger bucket of Ben and Jerry’s kind of sad. Just a deep sigh of I want something more kind of sad.

You see, Im single, and thirty and sometimes I just feel really alone. This is a world built for couples, for families and I am tired of being just me.

There was a time, and not so very long ago that I would have been a little ashamed to admit that so openly and brazenly. But its true. Somehow its easy to feel ashamed of those desires as though by saying that I want to be married I am admitting to being a mindless knit wit of a girl who sees value in herself only if she is loved by someone. It’s not that I feel that I am getting so old, or that I see all my friends married and feel left out, it’s not that I feel that I must be unlovable if I don’t have some man doting on me and getting down on one knee to propose. It’s not even that I am often lonely, although I am. It’s none of those things.

I am a pretty confident person, I have made my own way in the world, determined my path in life, set out on an adventure that I never would have dreamed possible, traveled the world, met all kinds of people, seen some really amazing and some really awful things. I have lived alone in my own place and enjoyed the independence of doing what I want when I want without worrying about another person. I have earned a degree, written a book, performed on stage, had many different experiences that I am really glad that I have had.

But I want to find out what married couples fight about and start fighting…and making up. I want to have someone who calls during the day just to see how my day was. To have someone who will hold me when I am having pain, who will listen when I need to talk and who will talk with me. I want to go to the grocery store and buy for more than one. I want to pick up someone else’s clothes and put them in the hamper when he forgets. I want to have inside jokes and memories that come with years of living with a person and knowing them so well that you can get as much from a look as you could from a whole paragraph.

I want a family, a baby, children, a mess in the house, piles of laundry to do. I want the bad days when dinner burns, the baby wont stop crying, the dishwasher broke and I just want to sit on the floor in defeat and wonder if I am crazy to be trying this at all. And I want the good days too where everything goes well and my husband arrives home to a tasty dinner on the table and our brilliant children quietly helping with chores and me looking more beautiful than ever greeting him at the door with a kiss. (Ok so maybe that’s asking for a bit much) I want to bring a spirit into this world, a human being and watch them grow, and teach them and see them grow into an individual. I want the satisfaction of knowing that I created something so complete and perfect, and amazing as a little person! I have loved being by myself! I really have but now I want to start spending the rest of my life with someone. I want to start a family and look forward to grand kids, I want to move on. What I don’t want is to be married just to get it done. I am happy single…most of the time. But I would still rather be single and unhappy than married and unhappy. At least then you have something to look forward to. I read this quote today from a book called the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society. It goes like this. ” I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.”
And so at the end of the day, when I come home and briefly cross paths with my roommates ( who I love and adore), eat my dinner alone and then sit here and complain to the universe at large about my desire to be married. I refuse to feel small and insignificant, I wont feel like a simple, sweet, girl, who just wants to be married. I will be happy with my life and accomplishments, I will look forward to the next stage of life. I will feel like a grown woman who wants more out of life than what I have and I wont be ashamed.