When I was in college I was obsessed with the idea of having a girlfriend. I was always troubled by it and I was constantly looking for something serious with whoever would give me the time of day. This attitude lead to a lot of somewhat embarrassing situations because I didn’t really understand that a lot of girls and people in college don’t really want to be in a relationship. Anyway, they didn’t want to be in a relationship with me, and I don’t blame them because I wanted it a little too much. I was a neurotic guy, deliberating constantly over small details and interactions and feeling unnecessarily angsty most of the time.
In my second year of school I met my first real girlfriend, Catherine. We took a class together on British Modernism. I thought she was very cute. One day we made small talk after class and I got really excited. The following week I was taking a nap in the lounge of the building where we had class and she came in to sit there and wait for our professor to arrive. We got to talking and I worked up the courage to invite her to a party I was having with my roommates. She agreed to come. Then, to my delight and surprise, she invited me to coffee after class. We went in her car, and I distinctly remember her driving past a stopped school bus and endangering the lives of those children – we joked about that.
The theme of the party was minimalist dance and we played Phillip Glass and Steven Reich. No one really appreciated that except for our friends and we lost a lot of beer. Catherine seemed to enjoy herself, though, and she spent the night. I don’t think I could have found someone who better alleviated my neuroses and insecurities – she had had a serious boyfriend before me, but she wasn’t so romantically experienced that my relative inexperience was a problem. Also, she kind of took charge of things because she seemed to know the relationship road pretty well. I especially appreciated that she didn’t have a cell phone, because that meant that we always just planned the next time we would see each other and I didn’t have to feel neurotic about missed phone calls, text messaging, etc. We pretty quickly became a couple.
As much as I loved being in a relationship, and I did because it freed me of so many anxieties I had felt before, I began to realize after maybe 2 months in that I was starting to get neurotic about new things. As Catherine became a bigger and more regular part of my life, I became more and more stressed about getting all of my work done. In particular, after we were intimate I found it difficult to just lie around in bed, and my mind always drifted to the assignments I had to complete.
Valentine’s day of that year (2008), Catherine and I went out to dinner with a group of her friends – we planned our actual date for the weekend because Feb 14 fell on a Wednesday. She came by to pick me up in her car. The roads were filled with potholes and she ran over some big ones. We ate together and had a nice enough time. I can’t really remember what we talked about. We wanted to have a threesome with one of Catherine’s girlfriends who was there and we sat next to her. We walked to the parking lot. It was frigid outside and there was dirty snow piled up everywhere. We discovered that all of Catherine’s tires were flat. This was distressing. I started to think, oh shit, I’m not going to be able to get my French homework done. All of our friends left on the soonest bus except one girl, Rosa. I consoled Catherine, but also told her that I was nervous about school work. She said it would be OK if I took the next bus back because her friend Rosa would wait out there in the cold for the tow truck with her, so fifteen minutes later I hopped on the bus back to campus.
Friday of the same week we planned our true romantic Valentine’s day date. She came over and we did the deed in my room, because we wanted to get it in at least once before our stomachs were full of food and alcohol. I treated her to a nice dinner of Indian food and we went back to campus to party and booze like college students do on Friday nights. After four or so drinks, it came out that Catherine was really pissed at me for abandoning her to wait for the tow truck. I tried to explain that I left because she said it was OK, but she said that I should have known that she wanted me to stay. In retrospect, she was probably right.
Well, we lasted another month. We managed to have group sex before we broke up, and that was all right. She gave me the news that it was over the week of my birthday. We both cried a lot and it was pretty sad, but I’ve been through worse.