It looks so small from a distance. When you're immersed in it -- living in Utah or in an LDS household -- Mormonism is like a cage with one small clouded lens to look out through that distorts your every view of the world.
Then one day you step out. You leave home, or you leave the Mormon corridor of Arizona, Utah, and Idaho, and suddenly it's as if it's hardly even there. It's this tiny, unimportant thing that you can forget about for days, weeks, months, even years at a time. You can take it out of your pocket and show people if you like, as an amusing conversation piece at parties. Or you can just not even bother with it at all.
Except that if you come from Mormon stock and your family is LDS, you occasionally have to face the disorienting task of stepping back in. Now, after more than three years apart at our respective universities and one year back together at grad school on the East Coast, Rex and I were about to step back in.
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My younger sister Annette was getting married to a returned-missionary from Orem named Matt Hobbs. She had met him at BYU. The marriage would be solemnized in the Provo temple, a stone's throw from campus. So we would be traveling back to Utah Valley, "Happy Valley" as it is lovingly known, to see all of my family at the reception. At the same time Rex, who grew up in Utah Valley, would be going home.
Even with Rex's younger sister Jill back home from college for the Summer and his even younger siblings, Joy and Jared, still living at home, there would have been room for us to stay with Rex's family if we had wanted to. Like Matt's family, they lived in Orem. The thing was, though, that Rex's parents had told him directly that since we weren't married we would have to sleep in separate rooms, and they had also told him that they would require him to "respect the rules of their house," which was their code for saying that there was to be no illicit hanky-panky even when nobody else was around.
Certainly it wouldn't have killed either one of us to go three days without sex. But it was the principle of the thing, and Rex wanted to make a statement to his parents that if they were going to stick their noses in his private life like that then he wasn't going to stay with them. So even though it took a bite out of our meager grad student budget to pay for a hotel room on top of paying for our plane tickets, we managed. Interestingly, when Rex's parents offered him the use of one of their cars for the duration of our stay, he was willing to accept that. I figured that that meant that at least there would be no hanky-panky in the car.
Our flight arrived in at the airport, and from there we took the bus into downtown Salt Lake where we caught another bus south to Utah Valley.
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