Monday, August 31
Fall 1995: There was never any question that I would go far far away for college. In my mind, it was always BYU, and though there was a brief season where my mom was convinced I'd shot those chances to hell with my slacking off in the grades dept., somehow, in spite of the Cs in Spanish my junior year, I managed to squeak into the college of my dreams. I wanted to be far, not because I didn't love my home and family, but because I felt bold and brave and itchingly ready to stretch my wings and fly on my own. I was exhilarated at the idea of a 30,000+ student college, almost 2,000 miles away. It helped that BYU was near extended family, and was filled with like-minded young, spiritual idealists. Seemed less scary, somehow, to share the vast newness with thousands of other un-edgy Mormon kids.
So I took the leap, and when my parents left me behind in my new apartment with 5 new, unknown BYU girls for roommates, and a fridge full of groceries they'd insisted I didn't have to reimburse them for, I was ready to fly. I wasn't even scared, really. I was so ready for the adventure of figuring it all out on my own. How to get to classes, how to begin making friends... How to dive into the BYU experience full-throttle.
And it was good. Really, it was. I loved being in an apartment versus a dorm. I loved my singles ward and loved having roommates. I loved my corner of my shared bedroom, a statement area that declared my leftover quirkiness from my high school years and my attachments to loved ones, as well as my devotion to my Savior and my faith. My sacred space, that corner of my bedroom.
But in addition to being really, really exciting-- really, really satisfying to begin to figure out how to be truly independent, it was also hard, of course. Isn't it for most of us? I'd come from being able to slide through school with not much extra effort to having to actually MAKE myself attend classes. I went from being the alpha sibling in a houseful of kids to having to learn how to be diplomatic and compromising in an apartment full of vastly different personalities. I missed my (ex)boyfriend. I missed my best friend. I didn't really know how to manage my money. I was far, far away from home.
And so my anthem that fall became "Nothing Else Matters", by Metallica. Before my senior year of high school, I'd never have imagined I'd even KNOW any Metallica songs. But my boyfriend my senior year had a deep love for their music. And he knew me well. Knew I'd probably never love the hard stuff they played. But their ballads.... oh, he knew they'd speak to my soul. So I fell in love with "Nothing Else Matters" that year, and when I went away to school, he put it on a cassette tape for me. It's funny how well he knew me, because as he handed the tape to me, and I expressed excitement at finally having my own copy of the song, he gave me a gentle warning-- "Be careful with this song. It's pretty potent. Don't overdo it."
But you know what? In the depths of the hardest moments of my freshman year at BYU, I overdosed on this song. Oh yes I did. I'd lay on the floor of my bedroom in the dark and play it over and over and over, hugging my whale pillow from Polly and letting the tears stream down. Letting it all out. Letting myself hurt and worry and grieve the things I'd not done well, the people I missed, the idealistic vision of how this whole thing was supposed to go. And Bruce was right: it WAS potent. But also healing. cathartic. A place to release my hard, confusing emotions during a new, strange, exciting, hard phase of my life.
Even now, I keep this song close-- and I've not outgrown its power. If I turn to it in the right moment of need, it can still fill my every bone and vein and give voice to my ache.... And help me let some of it go.
Posted by Emily S. at 11:59 PM