Friday, January 5, 2007

My Other Old Flame

A while ago, when I posted about my 'old flame', I referred to her, very cryptically (if not terribly creatively) as 'GF1'. And I'm sure that the more perceptive among you were asking yourselves, "Why did he call her 'GF1' and not just 'GF', or 'OGF' (for 'Old GirlFriend, I suppose), or something like that? Does 'GF1' imply the existence of a 'GF2'?" To which I reply - you are very clever bloggers; you figured me right out, you did.

When I was a freshman in college, I met a young woman, with whom I shared a couple classes, and who also, as luck would have it, lived in the women's wing of my dorm. She was witty and clever, and very bright - interesting, and lots of fun. She was also a strong Christian - she went to the same charismatic prayer meeting that I did, and, when the community began, she was part of it, as well.

As I got to know her better, I found that we had quite a bit of other common ground, besides. Both our families had moved during our senior year of high school, uprooting us from schools and friendships we'd had for years. And, coincidentally, our families had both moved to the suburbs of the same midwestern megalopolis; in fact, they lived about twenty minutes from each other. We began to spend a lot of time together, and by the time spring break rolled around, we were a definite 'item'.

Our parents' proximity to each other meant that, even when we returned home for the summer, we could easily get together pretty much whenever we wanted to, which turned out to be quite a lot. It also meant that we got to know each other's families very well. Which is a very helpful thing, if you mean to build a solid, long-term relationship. Which I certainly did.

GF2 effectively introduced me to the Catholic Church (which I actually mentioned in this post, without referring to her by name; or pseudonym; whatever). I began the process of being received into the Catholic Church when I thought that I would marry her someday (I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, that I wasn't far into the process before I made the decision to become Catholic on my own behalf, and not just for her).

But ultimately, I think we were mismatched in a few significant ways. For one, the whole time we were together, she was never completely certain that marriage was what she wanted for her life. From time to time, she would get a strong urge to be a nun. Which was certainly her prerogative, but definitely not what I wanted to hear.

I also think that we were somewhat mismatched temperamentally. Both Molly and GF1 are very outgoing, sanguine personalities, and very complementary to my more brooding, melancholy tendencies. But GF2 is temperamentally very similar to me, at least in terms of brooding melancholy. The problem with that being, that whenever one of us got 'down-in-the-dumps', the other one tended to follow them down into the dumps, rather than help them get out of their depression.

Anyway, between those factors (and a few others, like the fact that that we were both still teenagers at the time we were together), our relationship, at least in romantic terms, ended after a bit more than a year. I think we both agreed that our relationship was distracting us from things that we needed to be paying more attention to, like finishing our education(s), growing stronger and more mature in our Christian lives, and just growing up in general. (She probably agreed more than I did, but I could admit the truth of it.) And so, we broke off our romantic relationship.

That was incredibly painful for me, and made all the moreso by the fact that I was still in regular contact with her in the life of the community. For a few years afterwards, we practically ignored each other in public, just because neither of us could figure out how to treat each other 'normally'.

An interesting epilog to this story is that, after we broke up, Molly joined the community, and she and GF2 became very close friends. To the point that Molly asked her to be a bridesmaid in our wedding. Which GF2 accepted. And which my mom thought was very weird, but whatcha gonna do? By the time Molly and I were engaged, GF2 was also in a serious relationship with a guy who, in the fullness of time, would become her husband. In fact, they more-or-less announced their engagement at our wedding reception. So, our lives have been intertwined in some interesting ways over the years, even though we never revisited our 'old flame'.

Today, GF2 is happily married to the same guy (they just had their 26th anniversary), and the mother of seven kids, all of whom she has home-schooled (five of them, so far, through high school). In recent years, she and her husband have become one of our closest friend-couples (the 'big-family' thing, no doubt), and one of her sons, a theology student, has become a good friend of mine in his own right. Somewhere along the line, all of our kids have found out that "Our mom and your dad used to date each other," which is the object of great mirth among them. We would both be tickled pink to have two of our kids marry each other - if we can't have kids together, maybe we can have grandkids together.

But that's another story, yet to be written, if at all. . .


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