Tropical Storm Samantha

And oh yeah, I was saving myself for marriage, although after five months of dating her that was reduced to the barest of technicalities.

When I broke up with her, it was over the phone, pathetically, two thousand miles away from her, my brain two hundred feet down a well. I explained, as sincerely as I could manage: It wasn't her; it was me; not her fault I was breaking up with her because of somebody else's dream.

Let me explain. We dated for the latter half of our sophomore year of college: The whirling, wild-haired beauty, half sorority girl and half hippie and me (experimental, uncertain, struggling to reconcile my behavior with the remnants of my Christianity and figure out who the hell I was and what I was doing). And oh yeah, I was saving myself for marriage, although after five months of dating her that was reduced to the barest of technicalities. A slippery slope indeed.

She was a sweetheart, though, and her extraordinary patience with me was rewarded by a pregnancy scare the very first time we actually had sex, barely a week before the end of the school year.

A few weeks later I was sweltering in my room at the very top of my non-air-conditioned fraternity house, when I received a call from a friend - we'll call her Jenny. Jenny was one of the most genuinely spiritual people I knew, given to surprising insights, and one of the few Christians my own age whose "walk" I was awed by.

So Jenny called me, and the first thing she said was: "I just had a dream that you got your girlfriend pregnant."

I hadn't told Jenny about the pregnancy scare. I hadn't told her I'd dropped my V card. I had barely even mentioned my girlfriend to her. But suddenly I was struck by an awful thought - since when am I, Ned Forbes, the kind of guy who has to worry about that sort of thing?

I was convicted. I'd betrayed my own beliefs, nearly put a baby in somebody, and endangered my walk with Jesus - and quite possibly my mortal soul. I freaked out, called Samantha, and broke up with her. I'm sure I acquitted myself horribly - even writing this now, three years later, I'm struck by the callousness and pretentiousness of my actions - grandly proclaiming that I was returning to the spiritual fold, and implying that she, as the Eve to my Adam, was responsible for my fall from grace.

[Insert three years of me eventually getting the hell over my sexual hang-ups, renouncing my religion entirely, and mostly reconciling myself to the fact that I'm an idiot.]

All wounds heal. After a year or so, we started hanging out again - she can repeat her oft-uttered line with barely a wince: "He dumped me for Jesus, and then he dumped Jesus."

There's no point recounting the rest of it - the occasional drunken hook-ups our senior year, the ménage à trois with her sorority sister the weekend we graduated, the nine months or so we lived in the same West Coast city after college, the stupid jealousy I feel every time I see her new boyfriend and his stupid hat - except to say this: Maybe my memory, bad as it is, is tinted with stupid nostalgia. Maybe I'm being embarrassingly maudlin. I'm definitely an idiot.

But I threw away what was probably the best and most-stable relationship I've ever had because I couldn't figure out what I wanted.

I still don't know what I want. But I'm glad that, despite my weaknesses, my indecision, my propensity for self-pity, self-loathing, and self-flagellation, she's still my friend. I don't deserve that. But then, I don't really deserve any of my friends.

Who ever does?


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