Hard to believe it was ten years ago at this time-April 2002-I bought my very first U2 album and became an immediate fan on an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon. I was living in Cedar City, Utah going to school at Southern Utah University. I spent my weekdays commuting to the Wal-Mart Distribution Center forty miles south in Hurricane with homework, laundry, cleaning the apartment I shared with my roomates on Saturdays and church on Sundays. Though my days were full and busy I yearned for the unconventional simple life of homemaker, wife and mother. I was so tired of working to support myself. I was tired of all the competition among the large population of college girls just like me clinging desperately to the hope that one day we could obey our church leaders, cast off the shackles of our careers and live the humble productive lives our mothers and grandmothers once enjoyed. Fill the measure of our creation.
Alas, in a town with a population of twenty year old females greatly outnumbering the males-good men who aspire to be husbands and providers to future families of their own are hard to come by. Which is what led me to the (only) local Wal-Mart that fateful Saturday after I'd finished my chores at the laundromat proceeding to do my weekly grocery shopping. My daily commute was long, surrounding mountains made the one local alternative rock station hard to tune into and I'd been wanting some new music to help pass the time. Walking out with "All That You Can't Leave Behind" I had no idea just how literally that title would apply to my life.
Didn't realize it at the time but I fell in love that day. Here were four men who were dedicated to their family, partners, children, yet had managed to make inspiring, uplifting music. Sure, I'd heard of "The Joshua Tree" who wasn't familar with such warhorse hits as "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" but this new album really opened my eyes and for three solid weeks it stayed in my car's CD player. Who were these musicians? Why had I never bought any of their music before? I went online to find out and discovered the fan websites, biographies and mailing lists. I checked out "The Unforgettable Fire" Washington County library's one and only book about the band and devoured it. If blogs had exisited back then...
It was an instant connection. Here were four men who understood the old school traditions of wooing a woman while rocking the world. Here were good men who believed in that old-time religion and sought to make it a part of their lives while following their dreams. They had succeeded and they made me believe my own humble dreams had just as good a chance of becoming possible. I had found what I was looking for.
By Christmas of 2003 I was living alone in St. George, finishing my student teaching while working nights at the warehouse and trying not to let my obsession with Bono cloud my judgements. He was one of the reasons I moved up to Salt Lake after the new year. I'd missed their last concert tour and when U2 next came to town I realized the only venue big enough to hold them would be in our capitol city and that I needed to be there.
I moved to the Salt Lake area in January 2003 and never looked back. I joined my little sister in her apartment and threw myself into substitute teaching. When a career in this field never presented itself, I turned, like a druggie, to the music of U2 and found comfort and solace.
Sitting in one of the sealing rooms of the Salt Lake Temple, watching that same little sister cross the threshold from singleton into the land of eternal matrimony, it was the music of "Mysterious Ways" playing in my head like an iPod yet to be invented, that comforted me. The meaningful stares from my mother were hard to miss as I, the oldest daughter, had failed in accomplishing the greatest task she was sent here to do-multiply and replenish the earth-even if that meant marrying just for the sake of being married, which I refused to do. I turned up my nose at losers with no prospects, weak testimonies and ambitions. If I did marry, I wanted someone with the qualities of a U2 frontman: a leader, a committed family man whose desires to follow God and choose the right paralleled mine. Bono was anything but a loser. He'd set the bar for the kind of man I wanted to marry and I wouldn't "settle" for anything less.
Time passed and Mary gave birth to a darling baby boy. I didn't realize it at the time but the minute Calvin was placed in my arms, that spot Bono had occupied on my "pedestal" for so many years was replaced by another. Poor Bono. He never stood a chance. Who could compete with such an adorable little face? Why settle for an aging idol who doesn't even know my name when, for the first time in my life, the love I was giving was being returned threefold by a little child?
I now have a second little nephew to expand my growing circle of love. Meanwhile, the sparkling glow of my old U2 obsession grows dimmer with each passing year. Bono and company will always have a special place in my heart, of course, but something of far greater value and worth has slowly creeped in and taken over, Edge-ing out (pun intended) all other competition!