Soul Mates

Last weekend, a dear friend of mine from college came to visit for Thanksgiving. B, who is a 35 year old gay man, is the kind of friend you talk to once every couple of months – but when you talk, you talk. You always pick right back up where you left off, and in a matter of minutes you’re knee-deep in an intense, existential conversation about the Mormon Church. What, you don’t talk endlessly about Mormonism? You’re weird.

With this person, you can’t help but agree on everything, because your reasoning, the way you make sense of the world, is the same. You develop righteous anger over the same offences. You think the same people are idiots. Maybe your individual life stories even mirror each other (B and I have 15 siblings between us. And we both left the Church because our sexuality didn’t exactly match the Church’s standards and we knew we deserved to be happy anyway).

The very root of you is the same as theirs. You can feel it. It’s the kind of connection that makes you lifelong friends with the person you sat by on an airplane. It glues together people from the strangest walks of life; sometimes it’s so strong that it makes Democrats slip up and marry Republicans. And when you find someone like that, you just… know. (Also, you probably both find the idea of Kolob hilarious.)

So this person is then your… what? Best friend? Not necessarily. You could meet someone you intensely connect with, who’s visiting from out of country, and then never see them again. My own personal Best Friend Forever in the Whole Wide World  is not B. And these people are often not your lovers, either. What do you call them?

Recently, a friend and I were discussing the idea of soul mates, and I doubted aloud that someone would just have one potential romantic soul mate. He agreed, but then said he felt like he’d also had soul mates who were just his friends. And the moment he said that, I realized he was right. I loved that idea. I could list my soul mates without hesitation:

There’s one where our mutual hangovers always force us to get stoned, snuggle each other, and talk quietly for hours until we have to stumble into the kitchen for food. There’s the friend forty years my senior, who recently admitted that a problem of mine stumped him and he’d be damned. There’s the one who died, and along with him the horseback rides in the majestic orange and flaming red fall leaves of Utah mountains. There’s the one who was the one who got away. There’s Lois.

I don’t know. I’ve thought about this a lot since then and the more I reflect on it, the more I believe it. Although the cynical, cold-hearted atheist part of me recognizes that all this soul mate sentimentality is probably just some self-constructed bullshit, the writer in me thinks that the idea of soul mate friends is pretty fucking cool.

If in closing I can quote Sister Emily Bronte (please read in General Authority voice):

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

That’s how I feel about B. It was great to see you, my dear friend.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

The Gratuitous Holidays Post

I just finished putting up my Chreestmas tree, along with accompanying lights and bulbs and glittery things. Rather than listening to Christmas carols, I was listening to Dan Savage talk about dicks and the new Mormon gay policy. Savage makes excellent festive company. Highly recommended.

As I sat back to admire my luminous handiwork, being the sentimentally existential skeptic I am, I couldn’t help but reflect on previous years’ Christmases, and last year in particular. If you had told me last year that I would be where I am this year, I would have picked up my Christmas lights and strangled you with them out of sheer disbelief. Okay, maybe I would have only thrown sharp objects at you, but the point (so to speak) remains. It would have seemed impossible.

Because the unexpected shift in life direction has to do with many personally sensitive subjects, both for me and others whose privacy I respect, I won’t dive into the sordid details. I don’t think they really matter anyway. This isn’t the first time I’ve watched my anticipated life path shift dramatically and unexpectedly in an entirely different direction. And each time that happens, I find myself a little sad, a little confused, and a little saltier about life (fuck you, BYU!).

Just kidding. It’s actually been the opposite. Alongside the bittersweet windstorm of major life changes is this overwhelming gratitude that things have turned out the way they have. That, when the debris settles and I start putting myself back together, the shape my life takes is actually better for the explosions along the way.

This isn’t to say I believe in destiny. It might simply be a matter of optimistic perspective, or a basic lack of regret due to basic lack of a soul. But as tacky as it sounds, the times I have followed my gut and done what I felt to be right, even if it was really fucking hard, I have been grateful of the consequences. Let’s hope that’s an going thing.

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Behold, the tree of eternal sin.