The Bewilderment One Year Can Bring

1991 was (to overuse a word) epic.

I was 20, just starting the second year of my two year LDS mission. I lived in a small one bedroom apartment in downtown Portland, Maine, with the first of what would be three different people. We had five pieces of furniture- One large old blue chair, a smaller puke green one, an end table,two half broken dressers.  A ancient wall clock, the only accessory,  hung on the wall by the window, cord dangling down, exposed against white paint. It didn’t take batteries.

Eric Jensen, Brad Evans, Jonathan Siddoway, Drew Hinrchsen, Jill Wibiral, Traci Lee, so many others- The people I would encounter in this apartment, city, over the next five months would mean the world. I would rely on them for so many things, share secrets, fall in and out of love, then in love again, be betrayed by a few, surprised by others, break almost every rule I was supposed to follow, and work so hard my heart and head felt like they might explode.

Most of my favorite memories of those two years revolve around this place, these people. The memories are happy, ridiculous, poignant, embarrassing, depressing, sad, and I hold them very tightly. Most importantly, I learned I could survive difficulty. I was not afraid of being alone anymore.

My 20 year old self was certain that these connections would last forever.

They didn’t last the year.

I came home in November, on my birthday. Seeing my family after so long was odd and glorious.  My father and I went out for hamburgers that very afternoon. Such a surreal experience to have started the day a missionary in New England, end it eating hamburgers and buying CD’s with my father as if nothing had changed, no time had passed.

I felt like a little boy again for a few weeks, unsure how to be this adult I had grown into. I didn’t know how to find a job, get a car, start college. I had learned how to take care of myself, live in strange cities, but all of it with borrowed money.


My parents found me a job, a car. I made 5 dollars an hour working in a furniture store. I waited a year and when I felt my head was finally getting straight, I got myself into school.

In November, I also met Sheryl and our lives have been interconnected since then.

Years rarely hold as much drama, as much excitement or as much change as 1991 and I can’t help but notice how the older we all get, the shorter a year seems. In the two years I was in New England, I lived in 7 different cities with 13 different missionaries. In the near 20 years of marriage, I have lived in four places in three cities all with the same wonderful person. My life has sped up but in a strange and steady way that comforts me. Friends have come and gone, some have come back again, but few come back in the same way.

I think 1991 was the year I started figuring things out. My experiences, those I interacted with, impacted the way I have lived the last 21 years. The things I value and the things I refuse to tolerate in relationships trace back to the friendships I had in Portland, to 1991.

Strange, the things we hold close.




About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

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