We’ll call this girl I met, Alex.
We would take walks in the woods, hang out and do homework and do all the story swapping you do when you start the “I like you” dance. She gave me a quick tour of her dating history and I shared some of mine. We both agreed that we didn’t want to jump in to a serious relationship so it took a week of spending every free hour together before we held hands and another before we kissed. I liked Alex a lot and where I was just getting my 4 years started (footnote #1) she was coming to the end of hers. At Bible College that’s a very serious situation. A girl, graduating with a 4 year degree from the Bible College I graduated from is basically looking at limited options: become a very prepared Sunday School teacher, a missionary far, far away or marry a guy going into ministry. Alex wasn’t keen for either of the first two options and now the clock was ticking for her to find the guy for option 3. I, of course, was completely oblivious to the pressure she was experiencing. (footnote #2)
We became intensely inseparable that first semester of my 1st year. The truth is that I hadn’t made tons of friends at school that first semester and she was a friend. It also helped that she pretty much did everything right. She laughed at my jokes, acted like she was impressed by my philosophical rambles, she knew how to type and she had a car. Besides, she smelled nice and looked pretty.
I’m afraid that historically my record with relationships was not that great. I was always quick to jump in with both feet and then pretty slow to leave the pool no matter how cold it got and even when the piranha had been released. I was the only guy I knew who actually pined. Which I did. Often. In my last year of high school I fell in love at least once a week. My first semester of college at our local junior college (footnote #3) I worked in the bookstore and had developed a pretty serious relationship with a girl who came in to the bookstore every Thursday and bought a pink pack of Bubblicious bubble gum. We’d never actually had a conversation beyond, “that’s .75 cents.” Or sometimes I’d say, “That’s still .75 cents.” And she’d smile. I didn’t fail to notice when she put the change in my hand and her fingers would graze my palm as she let go of the coins. She could’ve just dropped the money on the counter or even into my hand but she chose the physical contact. I knew what was going on there.
I was in love until she came in with her boyfriend. Then I pined.
As the first semester got closer to Christmas our relationship started taking an unfamiliar turn. The truth is I’d met someone else, Tim, a guy in my English class. Diagramming sentences and getting bored to death by grammar had become the unlikely environment for a great friendship. One day in class I noticed him doodling a title from a comic book I read and I knew in that moment I’d found a kindred spirit. It wasn’t Jesus that connected us, it was Green Lantern. Tim and I started talking and hanging out, reading comics, listening to Bruce Cockburn and forging a brotherhood. It lead to us breaking up with our respective roommates that the school had assigned us and moving in together second semester.
Alex was not happy about what was happening with me and Tim. The hours I had spent with her were at first divided in her favour but slowly tension grew as the percentage shifted. A weekend didn’t have enough hours in it any more as I tried to give Alex the time and attention she wanted and I took time to do the things I wanted to do with Tim. I’m sure she felt like I was dating someone else or felt that slow burn out that I’d felt myself as “the one-who-was-about-to-get-dumped” at the end of some relationships that I’d thought were going really well. In my life to that moment I had not been a dumper. I was on the other end of that equation that John Green diagrams in “An Abundance of Katherines”. I was a lifelong dumpee. But there I was, leaving for Christmas break and thinking very seriously of breaking up with Alex.
to be continued…
1 Even though I’d already been to a year of school elsewhere which meant in reality I’d take 5 years to get the 4 year degree. In the end I took 6.
2 Bible College is sometimes called “Bridal College” by the initiated and the running promise/joke is ‘a ring by spring or your money back’.
3 Go Loggers!