This isn't about a crazy girlfriend (she was far from it) but a crazy situation. And it can certainly be argued that I was pretty damn crazy in this situation.
Right before my senior year of high school, I'm working at a training retreat for a positive peer pressure group in high school. Think Up With People only with 1.67% less cheese. Though somehow the membership of most of the more highly regarded cliques makes it a cool thing to be in. At any rate, it's there that I meet Jamie. She's a sophomore at the same school, very cute, utterly vivacious and almost always smiling. Fantastic girl. We hit it off pretty much immediately.
I'm elated. She's loads of fun and likes spending time with me! Silly me thought I was undatable! She seems really into me, and I'm really into her! Life is grand! But. (Of course there's a but.) She's very close to her parents, who are friendly but make it obvious that their daughter is their life. Not to mention the three of them are pretty active in a small Methodist church out in the country, filled with people who are also friendly but also seem quite protective of her. I quickly get the impression that if I step just one toe out of line I will immediately get drawn and quartered.
Add in the facts that I was inexperienced, I was fairly non-assertive and terrified to make the first move and I was horrible at reading signals, and the end result was that I barely touched her during the six months we dated. Did I want to? Hell yes. She was cute, I was hormonal and I was developing feelings for her. But I didn't. Sure, I hugged her, and I held her hand a few times, but in the entire six months we dated I didn't even kiss her. I was just too scared.
At the end of the six months she broke up with me, saying she didn't think things were working out. I was hurt, but I got over it soon enough and we stayed on good terms. Heck, we kept talking regularly.
Cut to the end of the school year. I'm on the newspaper staff, and the staff had just selected the current sophomores who would be on the staff next year and help out with the production of the last paper to get training from us. She's one of them. So we wind up working on the paper together after school hours one night. I have no idea what came over me, but suddenly I'm Mr. Suave. I'm flirty, I rubbed her shoulders, and at one point I picked her up and carried her down the hall. We both had a great time.
That night, she wrote me a note where she finally opens up to me about why we broke up. Namely, because I never touched her. She wanted me to touch her... badly, in fact. The fact that I didn't drove her crazy and made her think that I wasn't interested, and she was the type to expect the guy to make the first move. But that night, I had touched her more than I did in months of dating. She realized I was into her and capable of being physically affectionate, and she floated the idea of getting back together.
But I didn't get that note for awhile.
I finally got the note when her parents gave it to me, two weeks after Jamie died. She had an exceedingly rare blood condition that literally prevented her body from making red blood cells. Every month, she'd make a three-hour trip to a Memphis hospital for a full blood transfusion. I knew about that from the beginning, and since she seemed healthy I didn't let it bother me (unlike other guys she attempted to date). But she knew that people with the disease died young... better treatment was helping them live longer, but the future was very uncertain. (When she stopped growing as fast, the iron that wasn't being flushed out of her body as a side effect built up and caused her to fade, all within two weeks.) How did she react to knowing she would have a short life? She lived life to the fullest. She had fun. And she wanted to have all kinds of fun with the right guy. A guy who absolutely wanted the same sort of fun but was too chickenshit to act on it until it was too late.
The crushing guilt stayed with me for quite a while, but I did learn from the experience.