Thursday, March 24, 2011

Into The Woods

So I've been pushed into my next phase of life.

I got laid off on Friday.

I'm doing well. Very well actually. I couldn't blog about my job before well, because, not blogging about work is the first rule of blogging but I'll just sum it up saying that I was working for bonafide abusive paranoid amateurs who are experts a blame-shifting. I am very glad to be done with the place. I will miss the paycheck but that's about it. To add insult to injury I also badly twisted my ankle by missing the second to last stair and eating pavement when I was being shown the door. It wasn't my finest hour.

I'll blog about this at length later. What I'd really like to talk about is my last Saturday.

It was a very big day for a friend of mine. We were having a Stake Day in the Temple and one of my friends from the ward was receiving her own endowment. This is a big deal and she was gracious enough to invite me to accompany her through her session.

Trying to get my wits together the morning after being laid off, getting ready on a bad ankle and out the door early on a Saturday was a challenge but I did it and was on the phone with my dad giving him the details of the lay off while I was driving to the temple. I had my phone up to my ear when I saw a CHP in my rearview, lights on, pulling me over. Perfect.

I got a fix-it ticket for some stuff on my car. Mercifully he didn't write me up for talking on my phone (I left my bluetooth at home and my car is too loud to talk effectively on speaker phone) and I was on my way but very much behind schedule.

I pulled up to the temple at 930 - right when my friend's session was scheduled to start and was in a near panic and praying for a close parking space because I was already walking on a bad ankle but there wasn't a single one, near or far. The temple had been closed for the previous two weeks and there were a slew of weddings and own endowments so everyone and their best friend was there. It's a good problem but one that sent me into racking sobs. I drove around for a bit while mentally inventorying what I could have done differently to avoid this situation.

I shouldn't have had that bowl of cereal, I should have just left.

I should have gotten up earlier and not dawdled so long figuring out what to wear

I should have done my make up in the car on the way.

I ended up having to park half a mile away from the temple in an accommodating church parking lot and set off at my fastest run-hobble to get into the session praying for some reason it might be held up. I was doing this whilst still convulsively sobbing and to make everything more interesting the temple grounds were peppered with well-wishers and family members that didn't have a recommend so I had a captive audience the whole way up all bewilderingly starring at the chubby lady run-hobble while ugly-faced donkey crying trying to get to into the temple. It was mortifying.

I got into the temple at 940 and got changed and was told the session hadn't closed yet. I thought whew I'm not going to be a horrible person and miss it. Just a lame person for being late.

I had composed myself somewhat, wiped off the drippy eye makeup I sweat and cried off on my sprint in. I took the elevator up to the second floor where the entrance to the endowment room is and was happy to see a line of people coming out the endowment room door and going all the way down the grand staircase. This made me happy because it seemed that I wasn't really that late at all. When I hobbled closer I saw that the whole endowment room that typically accommodate about 500 people that is NEVER full was full. Like, breaking fire codes full. Like, they had put extra chairs in the aisle and there were a few people standing kind of full.

I saw the ordinance workers (men and women who run the sessions and administer the ordinances in the temple) in a ordinance worker huddle (they do that a lot because they need to communicate but like to keep their voices down to preserve reverence in the temple) and one of the gentleman turned around and said in the most reverent announcement voice ever "I'm sorry Brothers and Sisters, this is a good problem but the session is full and we cannot accommodate anyone else. Please feel free to join us on the 1030 session."

My stomach dropped and I, again, began to cry. I asked him "I have a friend in there receiving her endowment. Would it be OK for me just to wait for them in the Celestial Room?" I don't cry very often for my sake and even less often in front of people so I was already feeling off my rocker that morning. Too much of my energy was tied up in keeping it together, trying not to panic about my life and future and everything and dealing with the pain of my ankle. This blessed temple worker seemed to register all that with one glance at me and I could see everyone else in the temple zoom out of his vision and just focus on me. I turned to grab a few tissues at an accommodating table and he he said "OK - hold on just one second." He dashed to the door, and said - "there is a seat in the very front row - go now" and apparently they had had to stop the session for some reason and I managed to slip in just then. I had to walk all the way up the LONG isle in front of the 500+ people that were in that session very teary faced, shaking, and of course - mortified but I was there. I made it and I got to see my friend and be there for her. It took me about 20 minutes to compose myself. I'm not sure what my whimpering self must have looked or sounded like but I wasn't at a caring point to be honest.

The session was lovely. Seeing my friend in the Celestial Room was lovely it was all lovely. We went and ate and seeing how it was supposed to be a Stake Temple day they had arranged for half our stake to go through the 230 session, we were going to have a 445 chapel session and the remaining would go through the 530 session. Our whole ward that was endowed went either at 930 or 230 and we had our limited use recommend holders doing Baptisms for the Dead in the baptistery. It was a full on ward field trip. The chapel session was lovely and I got to meet up with my brother and the day was beginning to even out.

We met up with everyone at the newly refurbed and VERY shiny Visitor's Center and made dinner plans. We all scattered to our respective cars and I hobbled back to mine parked somewhere between Egypt and Tibet. This journey led me past the temple apartments where people who are doing work in the temple stay for a nominal fee. Senior Missionary couples, travelers, full time missionaries - there are a whole slew of different people there for different reasons. There was a sweet 40-something Samoan man that was packing up his car wearing bombers, slacks, a tie and a dress shirt decidedly tucked out. I could only gather he was at the end of his day and wanted to be comfortable.

The temple grounds at this point were pretty vacated so I was, again, by myself hobbling past this brother and he said to me in the sweetest pigeon English "Eh eh - sistah! Did you eeenjoye yo session?" I, having the glorious experience of living with Polynesians on my mission knew that they were a very gregarious people and like to talk to everyone and honestly cared about everyone. So I slowed and answered "Yes - yes I did. Thank you for asking" without really breaking my hobble pace. But this sweet Polynesian man stopped what he was doing, put his hands in his pockets and turned his shoulder towards me like he wasn't finished talking. I stopped not wanting to be rude and turned back to him as to say "I'm listening" and he said "I'm reeely glad you godt into da session." I then realized, he was probably one of those ordinance workers in the ordinance worker huddle that saw me loose it at the top of the stair that morning. I didn't know how he recognized me but he did. He went on "You knoe as Ordinance Workers - we try haaard to make sure that eeev'ry patron has a good e'sperance in the Temple of our God. I'm soo glad you 'aad a gooode daye"

This kindness so unexpected and sincere. So naturally, in my all-so-stoic state began to cry and not even knowing this man's name gave him a huge hug which he returned. I just whimpered "thank you" and kept hobbling back to my car. I'm so glad that I had that moment of love and recognition and clarity before I got back to my car because when I did, to make my day more amazingly complicated - I came back to a flat tire.

I looked down at my dress and my now alarmingly swollen ankle and continued to cry but for different reasons. I had my brother's phone for some reason but I knew that he and the rest of my ward were meeting at the same place to eat so I called my old home teacher and asked to speak to my brother and said "So my tire is flat" and my brother apparently thought that I was just reporting in and not asking for help. I was too tired and worn down to muster the energy to explain that I needed some help so I just hung up, found one of my fix-a-flats in my trunk and proceeded to fill my tire. I couldn't kneel or crouch because of my ankle and dress so I ended up having so sit on the ground, legs out like a 5 year old, in the gravely parking lot like the lady in Isaiah, got foul smelling chemical foam and grime on my hands, and finally got my tire full enough to limp to the nearest gas station.

I made it to the gas station, filled up the rest of my tire and then finally made it to the restaurant where everyone was very hungerly eating their dinner. The 15 or so members of my ward had put about 7 tables together every seat being full. They knew that I was coming, that I had a flat but they apparently couldn't be bothered to save me a seat. Naturally, like anyone in a truly raw state I was crushed and - you got it - started to cry. My brother and Bishop and his wife were among the group, all people who I love and like to think of as my friends and might have my interests in mind, people who I would hope could intuit my need. But no - double crush. I told my brother back at the temple that I'd buy him dinner for my half of the Netflix bill that month so I caught his eye, he jumped up and asked if I was OK etc and I replied something along the lines of "Sure - yeah - whatever. I think I'm going to go home". He tried to get me to stay and had lots of reassuring hugs but probably didn't get how gutted I was at the whole situation so I bought him his dinner and went home. That place and people were the last place I wanted to be at the moment. The Bishop followed me out making noises about wanting to see my tire and asking for me to check in when I got home etc but it all felt a little too much a little too late.

I know people who have left the church for lesser offenses and slights and I'm not going to lie - my confidence in my ward is pretty low right now. I don't even know who my home teacher is even if I needed to call on someone. That's not OK.

I kind of understand the "could you not watch with me one hour" principle now and if it wasn't for that amazing Polynesian man who I don't even know I would probably be in much worse shape. I'm still feeling a bit shaky and cry a lot more quickly than I usually do. I love my ward but this experience has given me pause. I know that The Church is true and no flick of human folly or selfishness can negate that. I told my roommate the whole story and she was very sweet. She's in charge of the Relief Society and had a different idea of how the evening would have played out had the Relief Society been in charge and I think she's right. I almost called her after I hung up with my brother but I knew how early she'd been up and how anxious she was to get home and was on her way so I didn't.

Either way, I still haven't gotten my tire patched - well- because I just got laid off and the Unemployment hasn't kicked in and I still went to Church on Sunday so I suppose I'm not too badly damaged. If anything I'm exhausted. It's all been a lot of serious highs and lows but that's how it works in the unknown I suppose.

The good news is I'm still in one piece, my relationship with God is strong and tomorrow is another day. With no mistakes in it.