Sunday, April 25, 2010


"Around here you don't lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn," the woman told her male companion just down the bar from where I was eating lunch.

It's an old joke around here, but like the license plate one, there's a lot of truth in it. Lots of people who have lived here for more than a few years find themselves single at some point and swimming in a rather small dating pool, there are young women, old women, and just not a whole lot in between.

Which brings me to "Sam." Sam is far younger than me, she was a kid when I met her nine years ago, and the girlfriend of one of the kids who worked at the cafe then. She left town for a while and came back not long after Z and I then she was 21.

One night she and a friend came into the cafe and had dinner, said they were going to a bar to play pool and invited me along. I met them there and we ended up later at the friend's apartment watching a movie. Sam said she had left her phone in my car and I went out to help her find it and as soon as we had a closed door between us and her friend she turned around and kissed me. We ended up at her place that night, making out before passing out on the couch.

Next, it was a party that we ran into each other at; one night it was a bar where we had barely acknowledged each other until I was leaving. I was in my car, backing out of the parking lot when she ran out and climbed in. "Let's go," she said.

And so things went, sometimes we would not see each other for a few weeks and then my phone would ring and she'd need a ride, and then we would end up at her place, or mine. Once, one of my favorites, we passed the night in a Mexican bar getting confused looks from the locals.

The common themes of all these encounters were that they were all on her terms, she always found or called me when she wanted to see me, it didn't work the other way, and there was always alcohol involved. Except once...sort of.

We had ended the night at my house, talking in front of the fireplace before going to bed. The next morning, instead of the usual quiet ride into town to drop her off at her place, we stayed in bed, naked, watching tv, taking breaks to have sex, until late in the afternoon. Out of my nearly 15,695 days, it is one of my favorites.

After a while, she began dating someone, as did I, and the phone calls and meetings stopped. Then she moved away, but about a year later got in touch with me again...this time online. Everything was good, she just wanted to check in, see how I was doing. Soon after, she split with her boyfriend and moved again, this time to Southern California, and started working on getting sober.

We wrote back and forth for a while and she'd call every once in a while. For a while there we were even contemplating taking a trip together, and then she just disappeared. I found out that she had suddenly gotten engaged and then she started drunk dialing again. She wanted out, would I help her? I never could tell her no, figure it out for yourself, but the next day I guess everything would be fine, because I'd not hear from her again until the next time that she was drunk and I looked better than whatever life clusterfuck she was staring at.

Then, she called sober, told me she was leaving, going to Texas to stay with family for awhile. She'd call when she got there, she said.

When she called a few weeks later she told me that she was pregnant. She had found out after splitting with her fiance, and knew then that she had to leave. I listened, not really knowing what to say. After hanging up I called her back to tell her that I didn't know what she was thinking she would do, but that I just wanted her to know that whatever she decided was right would be ok by me...but that I thought that she would have a beautiful baby who would be so lucky to have her for a mom.

Maybe you're thinking, really? She doesn't sound that fantastic, but that's because so far I've only described a drunk who liked to have sex with me sometimes. But she's so much more, she's smart and funny and she works hard and she believes in things and now her baby is almost a year old and it's so good to see them together, because they are happy, and the baby is lucky because Sam is a good mother.

I get to see them because Sam moved back not long after that night that she called to tell me that she was pregnant and sometimes they stop in to eat, or bake bread, or to tell me about her college classes, or to bring me some enchiladas.


John Gray said...

love it! honest,and sharp........sounds like a third of a movie.........

on the other hand you sound like a tart!
good writing

Eric said...

Oh, good. I was afraid of coming across as a sap.

Thanks, John.

Maria said...

Ah...would you believe that I had her pegged halfway down the post?

But...god...that whiskey can be a daunting thing, dude. Take it from someone who has been there, done that.

On the up side? Children have a way of grounding you and helping you slide right out of yourself at the same time. As fucking cornball as it sounds, I honestly believe that I would be one of those women who are in and out of rehab over and over again if Liv hadn't come around and made me see that there was so much more to me. You know?

Eric said...

It doesn't sound cornball, and I do know what you mean, Sam is so much more grounded and focused now.

Texan said...

I wound up at your blog from John's blog...

Anyway, I read this post a few days ago, oddly it kept slipping back into my mind over the last few days.

I hope Sam reads your blog. It was a honest and touching post that I think she would/should appreciate.