Project 52 – 18 and Living in the Dorm

It’s time for Project 52 – Week 18

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18 weeks ago, on my 52nd Birthday, I decided to post each week this year about one year of my life. I’m doing this for myself — reflecting my life and writing my story, giving each year one week to ponder over it.

This year we’re covering the year I was 18, from June 1982 to June 1983. I’ve been thinking about the year I was 18 for more than a week. How to summarize that year? Well, it was an emotional year — both very good emotions and very bad ones. And in the lowest times, God helped me through.

One thing that makes me extra nostalgic for that year is that the two people I spent the most time with that year (and only that year — they both left Biola the following year) have since passed away. My roommate Colleen Jenks died of a brain tumor on March 18, 1998. And just a few years ago I was pointed to an online obituary of my friend Bob Guentherman.

But back to that year. That summer was when I *finally* got my driver’s license. And June 1, 1982, I started working at Biola University Data Systems as a Student Programmer — doing computer programming for the university — programs for financial aid, class registration, car registration, chapel attendance, and the like.

The first month I worked there, my boss Sue Danielson was on vacation in Europe, so I spent most of my time reading manuals. But once she got back, the work began. I did love programming, and I was good at it. Figuring out puzzles of how to do what needs to be done given the language constraints is always fun. I continued to work there the rest of my years at Biola. When I started, it was going over COBOL programs, but before long we got Cognos products, Quiz and Quick and built reports and data entry screens with those.

I did make lasting friendships. Colin MacDougall was the other student programmer when I started, and after he graduated the others I worked with were Carolyn Rosscup, Tom Caylor, and Dave Young. My bosses Sue Danielson and John Veale were mentors to me as a college student.

I was still active in my church, now part of the college group. I went on a backpacking trip in the Sierras. I’m not sure if that year was the trip with Bob Sprague leading or if it was the year John Shumate led the trip and we watched a meteor shower out on a stargazing rock in the middle of the Sierras — but both years were wonderful experiences. And the only times I’ve gone backpacking in my life. But I did love it! (Though I pretty much decided I prefer day hikes — and drive to a place where you can see stars.)

And I moved on campus! Colleen Jenks and I were roommates. (Pronounced CO-Leen)

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I’d had Intro to Computer Science with Colleen the year before, but since then she’d switched from being a math major to an English major. I knew Colleen was a kindred spirit from the time during Freshman year when she had let me rest in her dorm room and I saw Anne of Green Gables books on her shelf. Colleen was full of fun and a complete prankster at heart.

Here’s a picture of us late at night in our PJs in front of the library:

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She was not, however, a Morning Person.

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Colleen actually would let me play records and sing to music in the morning while I curled my hair — while she was still asleep! So I should never ever tease her about how she was able to still sleep while I was doing that. But, well, I still think the picture’s funny.

Once when she was sleeping, she said something to me in her sleep. I didn’t understand what she said, so I asked, “Pardon?” She clearly didn’t understand. She sat bolt upright and said, “PARDON?!?”

This, though, is just Colleen studying:

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Now, at the end of my Freshman year, if you remember, I’d gotten quite a crush on Dan Daniels. He knew about that and didn’t return my feelings, though we wrote each other some during the summer. (That was the year I went backpacking with Bob Sprague’s group. I remember now that I wrote to him about the waterfall we saw when I went backpacking.)

I moved on campus early during Orientation week, and Colleen wasn’t there yet. But Dan Daniels had moved in. And he had a car. That first night, he drove me to dinner along with two friends of his. One was a friend he knew from Texas — Bob Guentherman, a transfer student a couple years older than me. The other was some guy I never saw again.

I think it was the second night I was on campus (during the day I was probably at work), Dan took me and my friend Debby Scott to the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles — just to walk around and to ride the glass elevators.

And there before my eyes I watched him fall for Debby. Not long after that, they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Okay, that was hard. In no sense did Debby “steal” him from me. He already hadn’t fallen for me. It just happened. And I liked Debby. Remember that I was only 17 when I met Dan and looked 13. Debby seemed more beautiful and more girlfriend material. It felt like Dan made the right choice. And that was what was hard about it.

But meanwhile, guess who turned up in Chorale on the first day we met that year — Bob Guentherman! I was pleased to see him, and he seemed pleased to see me. I do remember that when we went to A & Vs Pizza, as we did every year at the start of the year, I was assigned to Bob’s car to drive over and felt very lucky.

For once, I didn’t fall for him over one exciting conversation. But it wasn’t long before my crush on Dan had been replaced by a crush on Bob. And a very good friendship with him, I must add. I ate a lot of meals in the cafeteria with him and his friend (my friend, too) Mark May, who was also new in Chorale that year.

Chorale did our traditional trip to Yosemite.

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On the way to Yosemite that year, I got the people in the car I was riding in to read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud together, with each person taking a different character’s voice. Lots of fun! That was also about the time I first read A Wrinkle in Time, on Dan Daniels’ recommendation.

The Yosemite trip always finished up with a Communion service by the river.

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So another great year began. I was working in Data Systems. I was in Chorale. I was living on campus.

I used to get a ride with Karla Waldahl, who lived in La Mirada, to church on Sundays and visit my family, then get a ride back home. I did decide that first year living in the dorm that I would live in my own home, thank you very much. So I never called my parents’ house “home” any more. When I went back to the dorm, then I was going home.

Oh! And another baby was born to our family in November. I remember singing Chorale songs about the newborn Jesus and thinking it was extra moving to sing those when there was a newborn in my life.

Marcy was Number 12, but I never did live with her. (That next summer being the only exception.)

Here are some pictures from Christmas at my parents’ house:

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And Baby Marcy, about 6 weeks old:

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Abby opening a gift:

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Then, in January, I was in two weddings. First on January 4, Ruth got married to her high school sweetheart John Bridges.

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Then on January 15, I was maid of honor when my sister Becky married Dave Friese.

Here are the bridesmaids:

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Here’s the wedding party:

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And here are my Grandma and Grandpa Bates with ALL of their grandkids — at least all the ones who had been born yet:

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Biola takes the whole month of January off classes (during which time I worked full-time), but that year I was pretty busy with weddings, too.

And my friendship with Bob was still growing. I think he was around during Interterm in January. I still lived on campus that month. Somewhere along the way, Bob and I started meeting every night at 9:00 and going for a walk. Now that I think about it, we probably did it all during Interterm when neither of us had much homework.

We’d usually go across the street to La Mirada Park and walk around. As a girl, I couldn’t wander around at night — so it was nice to have a guy along.

When we first set it up, I thought for a bit that it meant I was getting a boyfriend. Well, that didn’t happen. But I *did* have a friend, and I enjoyed those walks and talks tremendously — and liked Bob more and more as we continued to do them.

Well, some time, probably early in second semester, Bob said it was time to stop. He said “nothing was happening” between us. So we were on very different wave lengths. I was falling for him harder and harder. But he didn’t feel that way about me.

And then he fell for Debby Scott.

When Bob and I started walking every night at 9:00, Debby and Dan were still dating. Well, they broke up. And then Bob and Debby got together. Bob was a lot nicer about it than Dan had been. And I am quite sure it happened after we had stopped meeting every night.

Again, I in no way, shape, or form blamed Debby for this. It just happened.

But WOW! It hurt!

Looking at it now — Three of my very best friends were already married. (I should add that they were all a year older than me.) And I’d never even had a boyfriend. And I had this friend I was crazy about who was spending time with me every night — and then he goes and falls for the same friend that my earlier crush fell for. The same beautiful, funny, clever, lovely person with the gorgeous voice. OUCH!

(And I’m still friends with Debby. She’s a wonderful, vibrant person with a sparkle in her eyes.)

However, I was taking a Psalms class with Dr. Ed Curtis. I was also memorizing the Psalms and having my quiet times in Psalms. And right around the time that Bob and Debby started dating, we covered Psalms 73 in class — and it was God’s word to me.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Yes, God helped me through that time — and laid the foundation for me to remember to turn to Him when I went through much deeper heartbreak years later.

God is faithful.

And the year finished off with Chorale Tour to the East Coast!

We started in Boston:

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Here’s Dave Kennedy with a statue:

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Then we went to New York. This is from the boat to the Statue of Liberty:

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And here are my dear friends Bob and Mark with the Twin Towers behind them:

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After that, we drove down to North Carolina. Now, my dear friend Kathe was living with her husband Joe in North Carolina at that time. We made a plan that she was going to come to our concert there, and then I would stay overnight with her. She would drive me up to Washington, DC, where the Chorale had a free day, and then I would join the Chorale again.

Well, on the day Kathe was going to drive to the concert to meet us — her car broke down.

It was another huge disappointment. I was crying in the bus the next day. And didn’t get much sympathy. It seemed such a stupid meaningless reason to not get to see my dear friend.

But — we were singing about trusting God and how Jesus is Lord. During the concert, I was deciding — would I get mad at God over this, or would I trust that He had a plan, that this didn’t sneak past Him. And, singing the songs, it’s pretty hard not to realize that I can trust Him.

So I was with the Chorale in North Carolina:

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And in Williamsburg (Little did I know how often I would come here years later!):

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And then we got to Washington, DC. Here’s the whole group singing “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I’m in the second row, sixth from the left.

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In those days, you could walk around the Capitol:

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Here’s Becky Geringer and Bill McIntosh:

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And Bob (from Texas) at the Texas statue:

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But best of all was that Kathe was able to meet me in DC — and I spent the rest of the day with her!

Here we are at the US Botanical Garden:

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That was the very first time I visited the Botanical Gardens. It was Kathe’s idea. Just a couple weeks ago, I took my sister Becky there, and have been there with other friends, too. Kathe started it, in 1983.

And here I am on the plane back with my dear friends Elizabeth Daniels and Debbie Olson.

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And when we got back, Bob broke up with Debby, who had not been able to go on the trip.

And after the year ended, Colleen transferred to Oregon State University. And Bob also switched schools. I only saw Bob one more time — He came at the start of the year the following year to withdraw.

I wrote to Bob many, many times over the years, and he never once wrote back. He had given me fair warning. When I first met him, he was surprised that Dan made the effort to look him up. Bob said that he just lets old friendships go. I said that I don’t do that at *all* — that I still have kept my best friends from third grade. So I guess I didn’t really listen to him saying he *didn’t* do that. I tried many times to get something from him — even one last time when Colleen died, because they were both from that same year of my life — but nothing.

And it turned out that Bob was gay. I figured that out somewhere along the way. I believe that was essentially why he broke up with Debby. And it is very likely why he was so able to resist my charms even when we went for walks every night!

I was sad that he never told me so. But to be fair, I was a young idealistic and Pharisaical evangelical — and when I realized Bob was gay, I thought it was a tragedy.

Still, somewhere years down the road, when my perspective had drastically and completely changed, it would have meant a lot to talk about it. Some day in heaven I’m going to spot my friend and tell him I’m so happy he got to have a 26-year relationship with his partner and sing in a choir and have a great life. And his friendship with me did brighten that year of my life. I look back at it with much more happiness than anguish.

Colleen and I did write letters. Often! And she and her parents came and visited me in Illinois a few months before I moved to Germany. It was after her first bout with cancer and before the bout that killed her. Colleen went on to become an English teacher at a high school — and she was a Fabulous one!

Whew! That was my Sophomore year at Biola University, the year I was 18. The year I learned about heartbreak, but that God really would take me through it. That was a lesson that would help years later.

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