She was my first real girlfriend. I liked her. She liked me. Hell, I even became a Christian for her. Not really. But really. Maybe. Well, I still needed a couple of years to sort that mess out. But I liked her. And, since I was in a new city, but not really a new city since I was here before, but only briefly, and none of the people I knew now, knew me then, so that made it all new, I could re-invent myself all over again. This strategy had successfully flopped so many times in the past I was convinced it would work this time.
So, being a new Christian, in a new city (not really), and in a new micro-community that we can call church, but not really, since that church thing spills over every Sunday morning into the larger community, where we are so inclined to give each other knowing glances, and secret handshakes, like we are in some sort of club or something, I felt so inclined to re-invent myself as a boyfriend like I was an expert at it.
This time my approach was more materialistic.
I bought jewelry for her, took her out for meals, bought her clothes all the time, and toys like giant stuffed animals and the like. She seemed happy and I seemed happy. Everyone loved us and we were the perfect model couple in our youth group, the church, and this quaint little community.
Everyone that is except for her mother.
Her mother gave her daughter the advice that she needed to get out there and sleep with as many men as possible so she would have a good idea of what she wanted. Her mother was single, although there was a significant other who was relatively new in her life when I was in the picture. I discounted her advice to her daughter and pressed on with this whole new boyfriend thing, bedazzling her with all of my newness, and spirituality.
It didn’t help my situation when one early winter evening after I had picked up my girlfriend from her home, which was about 30 minutes outside of this valley city, to take her into the city to a youth event, my car slipped on a very icy curve, and ended up taking the ditch backwards, tumbling end over end a few times before switching to its side and barrel rolling for a bunch more times, eventually landing upside down, pancaked, and lodged between a large tree and a large boulder. I had taken out a good section of some farmer’s fence in this process.
I woke up to my girlfriend screaming upside down as she thought I hadn’t made it. I too was upside down. I managed to undo my seat belt and then apparently I punched out the side window with my fist, squeezing out of it, and scrambled to the other side to rip open the passenger door to get my girlfriend out as well. We both then scrambled up the ice covered hill to the edge of the road, late in the evening, with snow coming down, me standing there with blood streaming down my head and my face from a large gash in my head, my hand bloody from the massive cuts from the glass, and various patches of blood all over my body. My girlfriend stood beside me looking shaken up and frazzled but had been spared any of the deep cuts and gashes that I endured.
After only a minute or two a lone car drove up slowly along the road coming to a stop in front of us. Out of the car sprang my girlfriend’s mother.
There was an increased effort on my girlfriend’s mother’s part, going forward, to keep us from seeing each other, which oddly enough seemed to only drive us closer together.
In the spring her mother, younger brother, and her mother’s significant other moved to another city. My girlfriend was pressured to move with them but with only a couple of months to graduation she wanted to stay and graduate with her friends. In a weird twist of irony my girlfriend ended up moving in with my parents, staying in my old bedroom, until she graduated.
Shortly after her graduation she left to go spend the summer with her family. By this time we were talking about marriage and couldn’t stand the idea of being apart from one another. Her future plans also included moving down to the coast on this western province and attending a Christian University. Given that I didn’t want to be apart from her – or perhaps better said, I had no idea how to be apart from her – I too also made plans to follow her down to that same University.
I started the application process but realized that I needed to finish two more courses in order to have enough credits to pass the entrance requirements. In blind faith I sent in my application with the promise that I would have them done by the time University started in the fall. That left me with two months.
At this point I had purchased a 1968 Ford Econoline van to replace the car that I had wrecked that past winter. I loaded up all of my earthly possessions into my van, which apart from a few clothes and some bedding was just a microwave, and headed out to join my girlfriend and her family for the summer before both of us headed south to the coast to attend University.
Who would have thought that my van would end up being my home instead?