This summer. . .
I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason I keep getting the distinct feeling that this summer will be a huge turning point in my life. I’ve just got this sense of anticipation that doesn’t really stem from anything (and may not actually mean anything), but it is directed toward what I am going to do this year. I still haven’t decided whether or not I should try out for the Playmill yet. I earlier wrote a fair amount of my reasoning, which I’ll reproduce here for public viewing:
. . .let’s outline the pros and cons of going to the Playmill this summer. First of all, it’s a neat opportunity that will not only make memories for a lifetime, but also look good on a resume (particularly if I’m allowed to do tech on one or more of the shows). Also, since this is the first year since 2003 that Ben and Kjersti haven’t been up there, it will allow me to get the Playmill experience without having to worry much about how I’m living up to their expectations (Ben in particular). In addition, since I am fairly well acquainted with Roger Merrill, who runs it, I believe I stand a pretty good chance of making the cut. And, while it’s not much, money is money, and it’s free room and board for a summer, and I could work the box-office or the candy store or whatever during the day to supplement that. I don’t have anything else lined up yet this summer, job or otherwise, and I don’t want to spend yet another summer lounging around Riverton doing nothing terribly productive.
Now, the cons. To start with, the three shows they’re doing this year are Footloose, Annie Get Your Gun, and See How They Run. While I don’t particularly dislike any of those shows, I’m not a huge fan of any of them either (except I don’t know anything at all about See How They Run, so it might be the best show I’ll ever see!). Secondly, I’m not a huge outdoorsy person, and while I do enjoy the occasional romp through the wilderness, I’m more of a cybergeek than a frontiersman. While living in West Yellowstone doesn’t preclude me from using a computer, we don’t have any sort of Internet access outside of the theater itself, and that would mean I could only be online via use of my Pocket PC. Yes, it sounds geeky, but then, I am a geek, so it makes sense to me. Also, I have the possibility to take spring and/or summer courses here at BYU in order to graduate sooner, specifically my Music History classes (which are the “have to take classes sequentially” classes that are giving me a bit of trouble when it comes to planning when I shall graduate). This particular objection may be refuted, however, by the fact that I could, quite possibly, take those classes during the summer of ‘08, since I’ll still be in school for at least that long. However, that will leave some of my Pell Grant money unused, and that might look bad with applying for future grants, and I simply can’t afford college without that financial aid. Finally, while my siblings won’t be up there, there are people up there that know them quite well and therefore will have a certain understanding of who I am that is more influenced by my siblings’ stories of me than actual observance of the type of person I am. While that may sound a bit obtuse, it makes sense to me. If somebody gives me a compliment (or insult), I like it to stem from who I am or what I’ve done, not what my siblings have built me to be. This was a big problem in my internal psyche my first time at BYU-I: wondering if people would think as much of me as they did if Ben and Kjersti hadn’t prepped everyone for my presence and given everybody some pre-conceived notions. I have weird concerns sometimes; what can I say?
Not much makes sense anymore. My situation is that I am entirely out of money, with no job (although I’ve received plenty of application rejections in the past weeks), no girlfriend, no real direction, and a major that, the more I learn about it, the more it scares me (making a living with it, I mean). I’ve been praying and fasting these past weeks to get some sense of direction, but not much has come yet. I do need to get away, get some perspective on things, and the Playmill may be just the place to do that. Or it may be just the place to distract me for a summer, taking me away from something important here: school, family, or something else.
Do you know where I’m the happiest these days? I am happiest when I spend time with my family, or more specifically, Annelise’s family. Currently I have two nieces, Ivy and Madeleine Murphy. Both of them are very dear to my heart, as they are to all of us partnerless, childless Parkes siblings (not to mention the one with a partner and children). Madeleine is a very open girl, always willing to share a smile and time with nearly anybody, and she’s got a fun smile and laugh that would brighten up anybody’s day. Ivy (click the pic on the left for a bigger version), while also a great girl, is a bit more reserved and pensive about things (at least it seems that way to me), and doesn’t as readily give her time or trust to others. I, however, have somehow gained a level of trust with her that very few outside of her immediate family have. Even when we’re with a big family group with a lot of people she has known for at least as long as I, she always seeks out either Mommy, Daddy, or Uncle Jeff when she wants something. Maybe it’s because I’m the only one in our family (besides her parents, of course) who had regular contact with her when she was younger. Maybe it’s because I watch her play her computer games while everyone else is busy doing more important things, like cleaning the house or making food. Maybe it’s some inexplicable thing that kids do. Whatever the reason, she trusts me like she trusts few others, and that’s something special.
When I’m around Ivy (and Madeleine), sometimes it almost feels as though I have my own kids. My time with them reaffirms my long-held belief that nothing will give me greater joy in this life than fatherhood. It’s hard enough to live in Provo and be far away, but living at the Playmill would mean I’d see them maybe once in four months. And yet, I know that they’re not my kids, they are, and always be, my sister’s children. Mine are still waiting for me to get off my bum and start dating more. And sometimes, when I’m doing stuff with my sister’s children, it seems like I’m trying to get ahead of myself, like I’m trying to gain the experiences of parenthood when I don’t even have a girlfriend yet, let alone a wife and family. Like I’m focusing on what I’ll do when I get to point C, when I haven’t even gotten from point A to point B yet.
Normal life vs. college/single life is strange. When you grow up you grow up in the world of families. Everybody either has children or is a child. At church the only single people you regularly see are either in high school or younger, or perhaps old Sister Widow, who lost her husband ten years ago and gets regular visits from Thomas S. Monson. But when you turn into a college student, especially post-mission, you suddenly enter this entirely different place. Everybody is single, looking out for him/herself. Sacrament meetings are actually quiet during the sacrament. Families are often looked at with more of a sense of wonder or anticipation (or dread), because they are suddenly the exception. The entire focus is not on the previous generation (parents) or the next (children), but the current. Thus when one goes home for a while, suddenly the role which he should play becomes blurry. Too old to just be one of the kids playing around, yet too young (or at least not of the right marital/parental status) to truly be one of the “adults.” This is one reason why I spent a lot of time alone when I lived at home.
I realize this post has started to become rambling, and I’ve got to get some sleep, so I will sign off for now. But please, if anybody reads this (especially the Playmill part) and has any insight to offer to help me make a good decision this summer, please let me know! Leave a comment, or send me an email, or whatev’!
P. S. I’m probably not going to Kim Isom’s wedding reception, mostly because this Saturday my cousin Walker Van Uitert is getting baptized! Which is awesome!