The What If Game

What if I had actually gotten into Heritage Halls, which I had tried to get into, instead of Helaman Halls where I was forced to live with a tiny Chinese roommate named Juliana Thong? I laughed when I first heard her name.

What if I had never known her name? Would the Thong Song be as funny as it is is to me now? No. Would I have even known to laugh when our Freshman Ward bishop, Bishop T. thanked “Julia Thong” and “Taura Brock” for their service? No. Would I ever have the opportunity to laugh as hard as I do every time MacKenzie Heinrich tells Juliana Thong, “Hey Juliana, I’m wearing your last name…..”? I don’t think so.

And then I think, what if I never knew what it was like to laugh like I do with Juliana Thong, almost barfing? What if I had never seen her put on her circle glasses and retainers and prank call Jacob Bromley and every boy we could think of and hear her say in her very famous voice that now all of our friends use, “Hello, Whatcha doin’?” Or heard her yell, in the middle of a phone conversation, “We traced the call. It’s coming from your house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I can still hear the way she laughs with her retainers in and it makes me laugh out loud writing this.

Would I have gotten better grades my freshman year if I hadn’t stayed up until 4 in the morning eating Big Boppers or those chocolate/mint ice cream sandwiches? Maybe. Would I have slept better if I didn’t hear her little fingers typing and clicking on her desktop computer until 5 in the morning, working on some annoying Industrial Design project? Definitely.

But who would I have lived with my sophomore year, if I hadn’t lived with her before? When Taylor Porter and her friends came over and told us real ghost stories from Hawaii, who would have stared at me and said with eyes bulging, bawling, “I feel so gross, I’m going to barf”? And after that, who would have watched The Restoration with me until all the bad spirits went away, hahahahahaaha?

When I was so sick of that sophomore apartment and said, “Look, girls, I’m moving. I can’t stay here. You are welcome to come with me if you want,” what if Juliana never came? What if she stayed away and we never met our Danville boys or decorated our turquoise carpeted condo or heard the meow of our dear, fake cat, Baby Puppy? Who would have sat cross-legged in pink booty shorts and listened to stories about Ryan when he was away? And when I dated other boys, who would have turned her back on them, reminding me that Ryan was still the best?

Our junior year, on that triple date that could have been a complete bust, who else would have leaned over her date’s face and mooned the car next to us? I can tell you what: NO ONE. Her whole personality is so refreshing and raw that when I’m with her, naked butt or not, I know that anything I am is okay.

(Hahahahhahahahhahahahahha, remember when we were both so pissed off we went out into the winter night and threw snow balls at people and things? Remember when we threw snowballs at Thayne Fagg’s (Families Are God’s Glory) house and when we heard them open the door, we sprinted as fast as we could laughing and crying, completely out of breath, diving behind cars to hide ourselves–and they caught us anyway? Hahahahahhaha.)

But hear me out.

What if in between all those laughing our butts off times, I had never known what it was like to cry with someone? With Juliana, who sometimes cried more than me for me, whose big eyes could swell almost shut by the morning.

What if I had never seen her get through all her own hard days okay? Had never overheard the pretty music playing in her room late at night when things were hardest? What if I had never heard her play a few love songs here and there–would I have known like I do now that behind all the funniest, wittiest, and wildest jokes, was this heart of a quieter hope and wonder at the majesty in the world? A heart that understood the divinity in the sound of footsteps in the snow, or in the light that comes in from the window onto the carpet, or in a hand that holds her hand and means it?

What if over all those years, I didn’t have her to feel all the good and bad, soft and loud, bare and  prickly times with?

And what if I had never seen her paintings? Never been able to hang them up in our apartment? What if I had never found her little water colors and made them into magnets on our fridge–where we hung all these bills, reminders, pictures, letters, quotes, all of which we needed? What if I had never seen the painting she made of these dolls her mom made to help put her siblings through school? What if I had never known how much good she came from, how it is so much in her too, and how she respects all of that, even in her paintings?

When I got married, who would have made that beautiful guest book I keep displayed in my family room because it reminds me of everyone I love, if not her? What if she couldn’t have made it to my wedding, to celebrate me marrying the guy she introduced me to? What if she wasn’t there to text “;) ;) ;) ;)” the day after I got married? (Who else would think winkey faces are as funny as I do?) And what if she wasn’t here when I got back from my honeymoon, when I was worried sick about Dane, to eat spaghetti with me, Ryan, and my brother Grant and talk about how things will turn out okay–because they kind of have to?

What if I didn’t know what it was like to have a friend so close that you know there has to be more than this life just because you’ve got to be able to see her again?

There are so many what ifs for me when I think about Juliana Thong. What if she didn’t move into Helaman Halls, into Taylor Hall, onto the third floor, second room on the right? Seriously.

Just when I think I control so much in my life, I think, but what if . . . ?

Juliana Thong, my instant and forever friend, you are proof that some things really are meant to be.


(Happy Birthday.)


3 Replies to “The What If Game”

  1. Tara one day I hope to do something worthy enough to have you write something about me. This is a beautiful tribute to the thong-ster, and I think you are awesome.

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