The door opened and I couldn't quite see what all the hubbub was about. The walls were brown, the amphitheater style seating was a bit steeper than I had anticipated. Gold pipes with shiny noses poking out above more brown, the framing of the organ, it seemed like a normal choir room. The students shuffling in, each with their different shape and size. I sat in the back with the rest of my class ready for this excursion to show its true colors. My high school self was sitting there trying to grasp the idea that this would be me one day soon. I had just got dumped 2 weeks prior and the wound was still fresh. I sat, quiet, in the back of that auditorium next to Alex, one of my closest friends. A boy sat on my other side. Alex introduced him to me. His mess of brown curls bounced as he sat down his deep dark freckles and a voice higher than any bass I had ever met. This was Garian. The three of us talked, laughed and caused entirely too much ruckus in the short 50 minutes we were there listening intently to the choir. At the end of what I’m sure was beautiful choir music walked out of that auditorium better friends than eer and I walked out that day having laughed harder than I had in weeks.
Big, green posters littering the walls of every portion of the school telling boys that they better ask to the dance, that “Homecoming is the Bee’s Knees” with a cute little picture of a bee in a suit and everyone was talking about whether or not they were going to go, or who had asked them. The gossip was spreading through the school like a bacteria, infecting each girl who hadn’t been asked yet as they watched their friends pick out their dress and answer in cute clever ways. I had resigned myself that I wasn’t going to go and so had my best friend Rylie but like any teenage girls the hope was still burning within us. We scoped out prospective dates sitting at our locker every day. Pointing and giggling as each cute guy passed by. Trying to brainwash them telepathically into asking us out. Little did we know we would both be asked that night in ridiculously clever ways. I had returned home that night to a giant poster plastered to my wall. It’s black lettering shouting out to be against its white backdrop. This message from a boy asking me to go with him. I bounced into school the next day excited to tell my story and plan what we would do in retaliation. I soon discovered Rylie had been asked that same night, and by a guy she barely knew. This was war. We spent every break between classes brainstorming and trying to plan the best possible response. We settled on one. That night we gathered our supplies and shoved the massive amounts of rainbow balloons into the back of my friend’s car. We began driving around in search of the house. Finally after 20 minutes of wandering we found it. Knocking on the door we were greeted by the smile of his mother. She let us in and led us to his room. His brown walls were bare and the only furniture in the room was a bed and a blue drumset, set off in the corner. We dumped bag after bag of balloons on the floor, the colors of each bag illuminating the room a little more. We set the poster with a giant “Yes” on the windowsill and left the room, closing the door. Then we took rolls of toilet paper and covered his entire doorframe with a gauzy, white packaging. This is how we left that night, with no idea of his reaction.
Matthew is one of the best people I have ever met. We never really hung out until about halfway through our senior year when fate or circumstance brought us together for a date. Having promised Garian that I would be his first date. I recruited Matthew to help me out. We had to plan a makeshift date in less than 12 hours in order for me to keep my promise. We sat at the granite countertop in his kitchen throwing ideas at the wall in hopes that one would stick. I was ignoring my stomach’s aching, not wanting to be rude and ask for something to eat. My ache in my stomach begin to claw its way to my vocal cords to voice its displeasure with my lack of nutrients. It was in this moment that I caved to what I thought was rude and simply asked if he had anything I could eat.
“Thank goodness” he said as he pulled out a toaster and some bread “I was afraid to eat anything in front of you”. He looked at me with a big bright grin like he had just told the funniest joke in the world. His teddy bear like cheeks showing his dimples and his whole body giggled as he started to laugh. His laugh was contagious and I couldn'thelp the chuckle that escaped my lips as we proceeded to eat the entire loaf as toast. Delicious, delicious toast. Before we knew it the majority of his kitchen was covered in all kinds of breakfast food, from purple jams to orange juice his kitchen had never been so colorful. Between bites of toast and sips of orange juice we laughed and planned this makeshift date in record time, my stomach moaning from laughter and having been fed. From that moment on we were near inseparable.
It was always the four of us. Sitting in Matt’s basement. It’s white walls covered in pictures of temples and Christ, courtesy of Matt’s mother. Every night was a collection of faces. Each night different but almost always those 3, consistent smiles shining through the darkness of the basement brighter than the blue glow of the TV screen. As time passed more faces were added to that brightness. Each smile a reminder of the love around me. Mckay, Austin, Alex, Tiffany, Madelyn, Tyler. Brought together in that mansion of a house. Every day Matt’s car would be outside each of our houses. It’s low rumble a comfort in winter. It’s blasting music a party anthem in the heat. Celebrating the good. Coming together to fix the hardships. Sharing scriptures and testimonies. Crying together, laughing together.
We were bandits, we were adventurers, we were missionaries and we were friends. It was one of those friendships that just happened and until you look back you had no idea it would change your life. We were slowly approaching the day Matt would go off to college and none of us knew what was going to happen. The night before he left we all sat in his basement. So many people were there but as the night progressed people kept leaving. The night dragged on and it was starting to get late. I looked around me and realized it was just the four of us now, Matt, Rylie, Garian and me, sitting in that basement just like we used to. We decided to go for a drive so we piled into Matt’s car and began to drive. The music was its classic party anthem, the gray leather seats of his van squeaking as each of made even the slightest move. We were laughing and smiling. We found ourselves at the Y parking lot. The music began to mellow down and conversation got deeper. Matt started to talk about how he was afraid to leave. And we all listened. Then one by one we each gave our best advice, sharing a story from the Book of Mormon or our own personal experiences in life. I can only remember one story that was told. Garian said “it was a good day to be good” a saying that quickly became our slogan. In the following months this slogan kept me going. I don’t remember what stories were told that night, but I do remember I have never been so grateful in my entire life.