The dishwasher at the restaurant I was a manager at was a Calvinist. And when I say Calvinist, I mean a good old-fashioned 5-point TULIP Calvinist. Being a young – in the faith – Christian, talking to him was not unlike sitting around the cafeteria table back in the mountain top village with my occultic buddies. Not that I thought this Calvinist dishwasher was a card-carrying member of the occult, but that they both shared the same pessimistic, fatalistic view of the world. And I was intrigued.
Most of what he would share with me as we would drive around after work or even during our talks at work made a lot of sense. But, I was tripping on the application of it all. It sounded so meaningless to me. If what he was saying was true, then my cliff top conversion was just a farce. And that was the problem. There was a part of me that felt like it already was. A conversion in order to gain a girlfriend. And where had that gotten me? This last year and a half was a wild storm, filled with nice moments but most of it was pretty shitty.
My girlfriend, in dealing with her own baggage ended up beating me up a couple of times. I had no idea what the hell was going on and because I was twice her size and, well, I was a male and she was a female, and you just don’t cross that line – I only tried to stop the punches to the face and the kicks to the groin. I wasn’t always successful. But, I loved her, and in spite of not knowing what the hell was going on in her life, to suddenly snap like that, and think it was okay to pound the crap out of me, I wanted to be with her. It was the only thing that made sense in my life.
I was fucked up.
I get that. I really do. It makes a lot of sense to me when I see – more commonly – women stay with piece of shit men who treat them like dirt. It breaks my heart but it makes sense. Better the devil I know then whatever the hell is waiting for me outside that door.
I was drinking myself to oblivion, already was well down the path of wanting to end my life, stopping short a handful of times. I had nothing to live for and all relationships in my life were blown up or worse – forgotten about – deleted with every move. What I had now was a group of people sitting in my living room who loved on me in a way I had never experienced before and I was drawn to that – mesmerized by its allure, captivated by its message. I wanted what they had.
And then I saw her in the mix and I decided I wanted her – just a little bit more than everything else.
So, I got both.
Now, the last year and a half was spent learning more about this Jesus person and what Christianity was all about, all the while being the best damn boyfriend that I ever was. And now, here I was at the coast, my girlfriend able and equipped to pursue her dreams and passions, and me working to survive – learning an acronym representing a flower and becoming more fucked up then before.
I mean, if I accepted this dishwasher’s explanation of God’s predestination then what the hell, man – why give a fuck about anything?
The odd thing was, he seemed pretty content with the whole thing. The not-knowing. The lack of hope in his eternal placement in the heavens and through it all content to worship something that may or may not have ALREADY chosen him to be with Him in eternity.
Where did that leave me? What did this mean in my world? Who was I worshiping then?
Not having any answers I defaulted to my newest methodology on being the most amazing boyfriend by buying the largest teddy bear I could find with my first paycheck. I loaded it into the passenger seat of my van and drove out to the University one evening after her classes were over to surprise her with my gift. I parked the van in the student parking lot and with my teddy bear in tow, I walked to the girl’s dormitory to find my girlfriend.
She wasn’t there. Instead, one of her roommates was there. She began to fill the air with excuses as to where my girlfriend might be but I was seeing through her pathetic attempt to lie and cover up. Her roommate was full of contradictions and I was filling with questions. Something was very wrong but I was not sure what that might be. My girlfriend knew I was coming but slowly some pieces were not adding up. It had only been a couple of weeks since the beginning of classes and as I stood there, feeling quite vulnerable and alone, the magnitude of the situation was beginning to reveal itself.
Visibly shaking I handed the teddy bear to the roommate, asking her to get my girlfriend to call me. I stumbled back to the parking lot, looking a lot like a heavily intoxicated person. Standing outside of my van, my hands began to retreat, forming very tight fists. I could feel my face flush with anger as everything in my life began to unravel. In a massive outburst I lashed out at the antenna on my van, ripping it easily from its mount. I whipped open the driver’s door and stumbled inside. Sitting there momentarily, looking up toward her dorm, half hoping I would see her running out toward me, but only seeing darkness, intermittently illuminated by the parking lot lights. I lashed out again, grabbing at anything I could in the van, ripping, slashing, smashing, banging, clawing away like a ferocious lion desperately trying to escape its cage.
A couple minutes went by and I stopped, catching my breath. I looked up again, this time my view inhibited by the tears in my eyes. No-one was around. No-one cared. No-one gave a shit. I turned on the van and smashing the transmission down into drive I screamed out of that parking lot, barely missing a handful of parked cars as I left the campus.
I should not have been driving.
I needed to get home.
But where was home? I had a bed for free at some family’s home on the other side of the city. I had a job in a restaurant because my old boss phoned ahead and secured it for me. I was the proverbial bum given a handout by a passerby, totally unaware that what I really wanted was not the dollar bill now lining my cup but for someone to care.