Other than the two “ex”-isodes, our engagement period flowed smoothly through eight months of romantic bliss. One time we were wading in a fountain on BYU’s campus. All of a sudden I tackled him and we both ended up swimming and kissing in a public fountain. People walked by us with condescending annoyance. At least I’m guessing there were other people at BYU, but I didn’t notice them. I had other priorities. Top priority was making Parke fall deeper and deeper in love with me; then came my school studies, church responsibilities, planning the wedding, hanging out with friends, and teaching the anatomy lab. Parke was also offered an anatomy teaching position (after getting a great recommendation from a certain instructor) and we were able to teach some labs together. Doing something I love with someone I love made the semester epic. There was a little study room off the anatomy laboratory room. It had a couch. And a lock. And no Honor Code hidden cameras. Suffice it to say, we spent a lot of time “studying” in that study room.
We decided to get married in May after winter semester since Christmas break seemed too soon. Plus, we figured the Fischer’s needed some time to warm up to the idea. Eight months seemed like an eternity to be engaged, especially in the Mormon community. An average Mormon engagement is three months. Since LDS couples don’t live with each other (and don’t sleep with each other) before marriage, couples usually have short engagements. LDS men and women are just as randy as the rest of the humans on the planet, which makes waiting for intimacy torturous. Our eight-month engagement in the world’s term would be like an eight year engagement, without sex. Four months seem like a short time to get to know each other, but Mormon marriages boast a much lower divorce rate than the average so the engagement length must not be a disruptive variable.
Mormon moms are so savvy about putting together a shotgun wedding that there should be a reality show about it. My mom and I were two states away which made planning a wedding difficult. Furthermore I was hesitant to give my parents free reign to plan our reception because we had different taste in entertaining. If my parents were in charge of the hometown reception, we would have our reception our kiwi orchard with fake flower arrangements, East Indian food, Carpenter songs blaring, and bazillion naked pictures of me as a baby. I was interested in a having a classy affair with fresh flowers everywhere, soft music and dancing. Although our libidos resisted, we were lucky to have eight months to plan the details for three receptions and a honeymoon.
After finishing up winter semester, I drove home. I felt a sentimental weight on my shoulders I had never felt before. When initially leaving home to go to BYU I felt a stream of emotion leaving my childhood home for college. I knew that when I’d come home my room would look the same and I would still be my parents’ little girl. However, now the eve before my wedding, I sat in my room overwhelmed with the loss of childhood. I felt like I was losing my spot in the family. I looked around. This was the room that housed me as I grew from a child to a teenager to a young woman. Although my room would still be the same after my marriage, it would be a shrine, not really my own. I studied the myriads of memorabilia I had acquired over the years. I laughed at my spoon collection which branded trips that we had taken as a family: The Bahamas, Cancun, the Tetons, Hawaii and others. There, on the corkboard, was the painting my best friend had crafted for me. Posters of Tom Cruise and boy bands wallpapered my walk-in closet. My computer now looked ancient. My grandmother’s poster board bed and matching dresser would be institutionalized in that corner. I looked at my clothes. There were prom dresses with poufy sleeves and Mexican Baja hoodies, Keds in every color, polos polos and more polos, Goth lace-up boots, softball jerseys, cheerleading skirts and strappy dresses. Should I take any of these with me? Heaven’s no. Plus, I doubt I’ll ever be a size 2 again. Should I throw them away? Ahhh, I just can’t. They are part of my museum.
Then I looked at my journals, neatly lined up in row in my bookshelf. I opened a random page of a random journal.
March 17, 1991 (Age 13)
“Tonight we had Family Home Evening. Dad talked to us about sex and church standards. I’m sure, I mean, I probably know more than him when it comes to sex and stuff.”
I closed my journal and busted up. Pure as the driven snow, I thought I knew it all. But here I was, twenty-three, and wished I could borrow a little of that thirteen-year-old cockiness. I was unsure of what to expect tomorrow…..night. My parents had neglected to discuss anything “uncomfortable” with me; just the facts Ma’am. I didn’t have sisters to let me in on all of the secrets of sex. Parke was my best friend but even he wasn’t experienced in that department. Plus, I was a little shy discussing sex with him. Once when we broached the topic, he was confident as hell and assured me that he would take good care of me, which sent shutters through my body. But I couldn’t help but be a little nervous. Although I was a cougar in the clothes-on arena of passion, thinking of being naked in front of a man was highly intimidating.
After doing fifty sit-ups, I decided to repress my nervousness by opening up another journal again.
I opened to August 5, 1990 where I stumbled upon the line: “I hate Saddam Husain! He’s such a jerk”
Wow, who knew I was so political at the tender age of twelve?
I replaced the journal and pulled out a journal chronicling my senior year of high school. I read about my excitement of leaving this house and having my own apartment in college. Haughtily, I penned my readiness to leave this nest and be an adult.
However, now that I was an adult, I was nostalgic for simpler times.
The last page of each journal always held two lists titled: “Guys I’ve Dated” and “Kisses I Have Given or Received”. I pulled out my current journal. This journal was different. It was the only journal not to have those two lists. Instead, written on the back page was a list titled:
“Things I Love About Parke”
I scanned the list, smiling as I went.
He loves to mow the lawn
How his hair looks when he’s done swimming
He plays the piano
He’s kind and thoughtful
He’s going to be a doctor
He’s not a picky eater. He’ll eat anything I make for him
He loves all types of music
He has class and style
His hands are manly and calloused
His awesome smile and perfect teeth
He’s active. He likes to work out and run
He’s on my mind whenever we’re apart
He’s so smart. His intelligence blows me away
His deep voice in the morning
He bought me the ring of my dreams
He turns me on
He served a mission
He likes my family and my friends
His hips are wider than mine
We both love anatomy
He always wants to be the man
He protects me
He’s not scared of anything
I opened my journal to a fresh page. I started to write down my feelings so that I would remember the hopefulness and euphoria I felt the night before my wedding. When I completed my entry, I looked at the “Things I Love about Parke” list one more time and added one more reason at the bottom of the page.
“He picked me”.