Never have I dated more than in the summer of 2002. It was as if some golden sign appeared over my head saying, "You don't have to commit to this girl. Date her. She is leaving on a mission!" I also think in some of my aunts' minds a "Marry off that niece," sign turned on, because two of my favorite guys from that summer, with whom I went on more than one date, were blind date set-ups from aunts who had never previously set me up.
Prior to that summer, I had dated fairly sporadically. That summer I dated at least twice a week. One night, I went on two dates in a row with two different people. It was like the Dating God who had studiously avoided me and had secretly hidden all of the argyle sweaters in the valley had suddenly decided to smile on me with great beneficence.
One of the young men who asked me out had to drive four hours for our date. He had a proposition in mind. I suppose you can probably guess who this young man was. Can you guess that he happened, by accident, to set our date for the very night before I finished and turned in my missionary paperwork?
Yes, it was Alex. He proposed that I postpone putting my papers in to find out where things would go with us. He was so delicate, so clever, knowing that I would run away if he said anything about the horrifying M word. He did say that, of all the girls he had dated, he had the easiest time envisioning me there when he saw himself staying up late assembling childrens' toys on Christmas Eve in the future. I think I realized somewhere, with latent repressed terror, that I could easily envision that, too.
At this point, I think I unconsciously knew exactly what would happen if I postponed my paperwork. Neither Alex nor I had ever kissed anyone at this point. I had never been so strongly tempted to kiss anyone as I was tempted to kiss Alex that night. But I didn't, because, as we have established, I was a complete noncommittal Ninny. I told Alex I needed time to think about what he had asked.
The next morning I told my bishop of my conundrum. He said to choose the boy or the mission, to decide, and to move forward. So I naturally picked mission, because of course anyone I chose to marry was destined to run out on me, even if he had loved me more than anyone else I had ever known--patiently, kindly, and graciously, since we were in junior high together.