my network of friends at university spanned several social circles: the longboarders (skaters), the varsity volleyballers, the art crowd, the jokesters, to name a few. like planets during an eclipse, my car accident caused these circles to align, allowing friends to share and hear about different sides of me. many of my friends met each other for the first time in the family/friends room at VGH, the opening question being, “so how do you know jay?” in this social implosion, it was only a matter of time before romantic interests met each other. like ebenezer scrooge, i could only lay in bed while the girls of romantic past, present, and future came together.
first, was amanda. amanda and i had broken up a year before the accident, after eight months together. we had met in the summer at a friend’s wedding where we shared MC duties at the reception. the following fall she came to Trinity Western University, and our friendship developed into an exclusive relationship fairly quickly. as our relationship progressed, our respective priorities ultimately led us in different directions. the breakup was tough, not messy or mean, just hard to get through initially.
next was rachel, who was in the car-accident with me. we met while sitting in on a class we were both wait-listed for. as class began, the prof declared that no one on the wait-list would get in. naturally, i packed my things and left. i wasn’t about to sit there for an hour for no reason. i knew i wasn’t the only one on wait-listed, but no one else got up to leave. later on, as i scanned a course list outside the admissions building, rachel showed up for the same reason. she thought it was funny how i just got up and left class. i found her intriguing, and we began to hang out more and more often. our relationship was only a few months old when it, too, fell victim to our car accident.
playing the part of romantic future was anya. anya and i met on a blind date about a year prior to my hospital stay. more specifically, we met doing a video spoof of the TV show “Blind Date” for a class project. portraying a guy and girl meeting for the first time, therefore, wasn’t a big stretch. we ad-libbed most of our lines, and through this found a shared sense of humor. we became really good friends but despite the all-nighters, frequent laughter, and regular phone calls, we had decided to keep our relationship a platonic one. at the hospital anya didn’t know if our relationship would, or should, develop into anything more. the reality of nearly losing me to a car-crash, however, crystallized some of how she felt about me.
if the prospect of these three girls meeting each other and talking about me seems a little nerve wracking, it didn’t really bother me. first of all, there was nothing i could do about it. secondly, there was nothing in my relational history to be ashamed of. finally, i think the situation at hand, and the general vibe in the family/friends room, meant that every story shared was in my favor and highlighted my good points. perhaps it was a post trauma response, or maybe it was another side effect of the drugs, but seeing each of these girls regularly at the hospital had me pondering the romantic possibilities with each of them. apparently i wasn’t the only one thinking this way, either. a few months later, anya told me how they had laughed at how lucky i was to have three girls who cared for me, waiting for me to get better. i was The Bachelor with brain damage.
my stay at the hospital was a very emotional time, understandably, and it was difficult to separate romantic feelings from other emotions triggered by the accident. i think i’ve always been pretty savvy when it comes to relationships, and lying in bed all day meant i had plenty of time to think things through. eventually i decided that my feelings toward amanda were essentially ramped up nostalgic ones, re-awakened by the car-crash and the increased frequency of seeing one another. in other words, these feelings were nothing to act on, and besides, experience had shown that “we” wouldn’t work anyway. so that left two girls for the season finale of The ICU Bachelor.
as i mentioned earlier, rachel and i were together only a few months at the time of our car-accident. we started dating shortly after meeting, and thus had little history apart from those few months together. there were some incompatibilities in my mind, but nothing that warranted breaking up at that point. i momentarily considered the notion that maybe the shared experience of the car-crash would allow us to relate to each other more, but i knew it was unlikely that this dynamic would work in our favor. by this time, we had been unable to see or communicate with each other for almost as long as we had been together, and we would essentially be starting over. given the incompatibilities that arose during our brief time together, the traumatic fallout from the accident, and the timing of everything, i felt a long-term relationship with rachel likely wouldn’t work.
looking back on it, i don’t know why i was debating these relationships so much, you would think i had enough to think about as it was. i suppose the regular visits made me wonder what was motivating each girl to make the trip out, and the implications thereof. it kind of puts a whole new spin on the term “intensive care”. in any case, with the circumstances such as they were, i decided i would explore the relational possibilities with anya. the fact that we got along great had long been established and i greatly enjoyed our shared sense of humor. now i just had to find out why she was visiting every day, given our earlier decision to remain “just friends”.
normally these kinds of relationship-defining talks are done when the one initiating the conversation is at his/her best. if you’re going to broach the possibility of a long-term relationship, you don’t want to state your case in a hospital gown, but that was all i had. unfortunately, seven weeks of hospital life had also left me drastically underweight, pale as milk, and sporting a mustache that had long gone rogue. completing the caricature of myself was a mess of free-range hair and a chipped front tooth.
my comical appearance and cartoonish body type was least on my mind when anya and another friend, tys, came to visit me one day in early june. i don’t remember how the topic came up or what provoked me, but i found myself letter-boarding the elephant in the room:
“D-O W-E N-E-E-D T-O H-A-V-E A T-A-L-K.”
without the question-mark this reads more as a threat than an inquiry, but it got my point across. i was very fluent in letter-tapping at this point, and my arm was a blur as i bravely tapped out this pivotal question. unfortunately, my audience was somewhat less well versed in letterboarding, and i had to repeat my question/statement more slowly a second time. tys was the first to understand what i was getting at, and translated the question for anya.
let’s just take a second to recap here: i look like a dirty Q-tip wearing a bedsheet and i’m asking anya if she’s interested in me. not only that, but i’m asking her via my letterboard because i can’t even speak. to make things worse, tys is deciphering my tapping for her. what would i have done if she said “yes, let’s talk”? given my earlier claim of relational prowess, this tactic was either brilliant or entirely our of character. in the very least, it was a bold move. as it was, anya responded by saying she did want to talk about “us” but suggested we wait until i was “stronger”, which was probably a euphemism for “groomed, dressed, and able to speak”. in any case, she was happy to know i was thinking about her that way, and by her response, i was happy to know she felt the same way about me.