At the beginning of the week, I resolved to attend institute tonight. I went twice in September and haven't gone since, so this was a big day for me. I talked it over with a friend yesterday, and we confirmed that, yes, this would be the week.
The first roadblock in my resolve was that between yesterday and today, I completely forgot that institute exists. With blissful unawareness, I started my day without a care in the world. Applied to some jobs, watched some Downton. You know, normal weekday stuff. And then my friend texted me at 12:48pm: "So, are you going to institute tonight?" Institute? Oh. It's Wednesday. With now tainted bliss, I responded as half-heartedly as I possibly could: "Oooh. I forgot about it completely. Ummmmm . . . Maybe? It sounds super boring, but it seems like I should start going. You?" See, the idea of being a regular institute goer is way more enticing than the reality of sitting through an hour-and-a-half lesson on Isaiah. To me, my response said "Nope, I'm not going, but don't judge me!" She felt similarly, but she decided to go. We decided to carpool. I was stuck. I tried to remember that this was what I had planned on anyway, but somehow it felt like I was completely tricked into attending.
She got to my house at 6:40pm, we got in my Jeep, and we drove towards the Mt. View Seminary building. When it was time to open the car doors and actually walk inside, we both paused, looked at each other, and considered going home. No, we were already there. We decided to go inside.
As we walked into the room, we were both immediately overcome with terror. The desks were in groups, not rows. This would undoubtedly mean group interaction and discussion. We scouted out the most remote seats and proceeded to analyze our decision to stay. Then the institute teacher approached us, introduced himself, asked for my first and last name, and gave me an information sheet to fill out. There's nothing like an information sheet to say, "Welcome. You're obviously new here, and I want to keep tabs on you." He made us begin by introducing ourselves to our table. Then he called on individuals from each table to introduce the rest of their table. I am deeply opposed to this teaching method (mostly because nothing brings me more anxiety than the looming chance of someone putting me on the spot). This simply would not do. Fifteen minutes in, my friend turned to me and said, "Why didn't we leave when we first got here?" Completely relieved, I said,"I don't know! Do you want to leave now?" Thankfully, and I will treasure her friendship forever for this, she said, "Yes!"
In hushed tones, we planned our escape. She would leave first, with haste and purpose. I would casually wait two minutes and then follow. No explanation to our table. No eye contact with anyone. She slipped out, and I sat at the table casually flipping through my Gospel Library iPod app, trying to mask my gushing anticipation and fear of being found out. It was like the feeling I had when me and some friends at BYU woke up in the middle of the night, broke into a guys' apartment and covered their living room and kitchen in strings and strings of yarn. Two minutes past. I slipped my iPod into my bag, left my blank information sheet on the table, and confidently strode out of the room.
Maybe next week.