Sunday, November 22, 2009

The places my mind takes me sometimes

Do you ever spend time contemplating your past and being blown away by the breadth of it all? I have such a wealth of memories - good, bad, and ugly - that I sometimes get overwhelmed. I cannot imagine how I will handle it all when I am old and gray. A decent proportion of my memories make me cringe with shame - but I hope that is true for most of us (and not just me).

Let's just say that the advent of facebook contributes to this phenomenon.

This is a photo from finals week at the end of my freshman year of college. BJ, Chantelle, Christina, Sam, and I were studying for our TMA 185 final. I was comfortable in a pasty version of myself with the freshman 15 packed on (until I saw the photos taken of me this week, then I promptly started tanning and joined a gym - true story). I had become really great friends with these people (and several others) and my friendship was based entirely in the present with absolutely no expectations of the future - other than that we'd hopefully remain in touch. I didn't expect we'd all become successful filmmakers, or even work in the industry, but I didn't assume we wouldn't either. It was sort of a magical expectation-less place. (I expect my childhood full of unexpectable circumstances contributed to that state of mind.)

freshman year byu_TMA185 studybuds
Yet it still blows my mind what befell us all.

Sam had a lung collapse a matter of months after this photo was taken, was diagnosed with lymphoma, and less than a year later he passed away. I was studying abroad when he died, and I think I got genuinely depressed for a spell. I recall listening to a rendition of the Lord's Prayer by the choir of St Paul's Cathedral on repeat for weeks on end.

Of those living, I am certainly the least engaged in film-making. Christina went on to serve an LDS Mission, and since graduating she has worked for the church in their media production department. She's currently taking her baby to work with her, putting her husband through school. She's the most inherently maternal person I've ever met, and she adopts people into her care like stray puppies off the street. Other than my mother, she's the person I'm most likely to call when my mind starts dripping deep thoughts.

Chantelle devoted almost 6 years of her life to this documentary project. She met her European husband while working on a project in Thailand ( As I remember it?) She had her first baby shortly after Christina. She is still one of the most delightful people I've ever met, and the 6 weeks I lived with her while we interned in Orlando were some of the most spiritual of my life.

And BJ, I knew the least about. He left college to serve a mission shortly after this photo was taken. I didn't really see him again until right before I graduated, when I heard that he was engaged. I congratulated him with all my most genuine enthusiasm, and we had a short conversation in a hallway. He told me he was terribly concerned about the financial realities of being married and wasn't sure how ends were going to meet. I shared some wisdom that had been given me when I'd had similar concerns. (Tithing - and blessings).

And honestly, other than becoming facebook friends, I didn't give a great deal of thought to him. I knew him to be prudent and capable, and assumed he would succeed at whatever he set his mind to.

So, yeah. Facebook.

BJ made some facebook comment that referred to his wife's blog, and for I'm not sure what reason, I linked to it. And I spent a significant portion of my afternoon reading it. What I had not realized when I'd had that conversation with him, was that his then-fiance had a chronic illness that they both knew they'd be dealing with indefinitely. It's a huge part of their life. Because she is "uninsurable" he's had to significantly alter his educational and career plans in order to keep her insured.

But he's done it. And I'm immensely proud of him for it.

No really, immensely.

And so, after reading and feeling all those things, I pulled this photo out and spent a spell being nostalgic.

And I have come to the conclusion that God has excellent taste when it comes to planting people in my life. I do so hope He keeps at it.


--jeff * said...

em, i dig nostalgia moments.

i remember sitting by sam during our production management class (and just spent the past few days working with our teacher from that class).

christina actually intimidated me a little when i first met her, but i got to know her better as i wrote to her a few times during her mission.

chantelle was one of my favorite people in the program, and i did some camera work for her doc. in fact, one of the interviews i shot not only ended up in the movie, but crossed my path in another very strange way.

and i never knew bj, but i appreciated the story you shared about him and his wife.


Chell said...

Em you and I are a lot alike with nostalgia moments, and facebook has brought on the onslaught of them for me and it is amazing looking back at the people whose paths have crossed mine and the seeming randomness of it all at the time but knowing there was much more behind it. and you are not alone with the memories that make you cringe in shame, so glad to hear someone else admit it...

The Skinners said...

Those are some great friends. Im sorry to hear about Sam. Its amazing how people can really touch our lives. No- we wont be in Utah for the holidays. Maybe next year! We are sad because we wont get to see you guys. I would have loved to watch Cole and Oliver reunite.

stina said...

Its so good to reminisce..Sam had a huge impact on so many of us. He was sun an amazing person and now even years later and having known him for only 1 and half I think...his life still affects me.

Jeff, you are awesome :-)

Emily, I am so grateful to you for reminding us of things that have changed us..and keeping in touch SO well so we can continue to change and help each other!
I love you!

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