Friday, February 17, 2017

Did you fall in love at Adventist academy?

By Ami
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I admit it: this post is a little self-indulgent, but since I’m currently queasy from eating too much Valentine’s chocolate, it’s not the most self-indulgent thing I’ve done lately. Hold on to your Rolaids, everyone: I’m going to write about love.

Like many a cheesy idiot before me, I fell in love in high school. Alex had long hair and Wolverine-style sideburns, and when we met in the Student Association Handshake line, he flashed an utterly disarming grin and said, “You’re good-looking.”

We didn’t talk again for months, although he says he remembers seeing me--distinctive with my short hair and long legs--hurrying across campus. He says that I always looked like I knew where I was going. I didn’t, but I like that his first impression of me was one of confidence.

Late in the fall, we elected class officers. In order to be nominated, candidates had to collect a certain number of signatures. When he asked my friend and me to sign his nomination form for class pastor, my friend laughed. “You’re running for pastor? That’s hilarious,” she said. “Everyone thinks it’s a joke,” he frowned. He asked me, “Will you sign it? I’m serious.” I signed.

The next time we talked, he had a crush on a petite girl with huge, curly hair, and I was sort of dating his friend--“sort of dating” being what Adventist academy dorm kids do in place of actually dating, which is impossible when you live in an Adventist academy dorm. His friend was serious and artistic and deeply in love with an ex-girlfriend. We went to the Valentine banquet together and walked around the track during rec, having intense conversations interspersed with awkward silences.

By spring, our “sort of dating” had fizzled, but we were still friends, and we spent a lot of time hanging out on the lawn with Alex and my roommate. There were no awkward silences with Alex. We teased like we’d known each other for years. We were pals. I thought he had a crush on my roommate.

And then, out of nowhere, he held my hand during vespers, totally unself-conscious, like it was no big deal. Holding hands. In vespers. In Adventist boarding school world, where a hug could get you a week on social, that was like...first base? Second base? (I still don’t know much about dating. Or baseball.) Besides, running for class pastor aside, he wasn’t exactly Adventist husband material, which meant he wasn’t exactly Adventist boyfriend material. He had long hair and those goofy sideburns, and I was pretty sure he’d done drugs.

The next week, it poured--the kind of long, drenching, lightning-free rainstorm we rarely see in Florida. My boss let me off work early, and I felt free and full of energy. When I called my roommate to see if she wanted to take a walk in the rain, she said I was crazy and hung up.

I called Alex at work. He said, “You’re crazy...I’ll ask my boss.”

We walked for an hour or two in the steady, warm rain. If we talked about anything in particular, I don’t remember it. As the rain died down and we started back toward the dorms, he teased me and flashed that ridiculous grin.

Did I mention that his eyes were green? I was done for.

I thought, “Aw, screw it.”

We were together the rest of our junior and senior years, although he never asked me out, and we were never technically boyfriend and girlfriend. We were never put on social either, although we did a fair amount of making out on campus. The girls’ dean asked if I knew what I was doing “with that boy,” and the vice principal asked me to talk Alex into getting a haircut. After graduation, we dated long distance until I changed schools to move closer, and we got married my junior year of college, still technically virgins. It was mostly a perfect Adventist romance.

Until we started drinking, apostatizing, and making atheist podcasts!