A relationship is much like the strings on a guitar. When the parts of the relationship are working well, the strings on the guitar make beautiful music. If the relationship goes sour, you have a guitar with broken strings.
I wrote that a couple of years ago, but it seems like only yesterday that those thoughts came to mind. Those feelings fit perfectly in a period that changed my life forever.
I remember being in my room, playing my favorite song at the time on my acoustic guitar, sitting on my bed and tapping my left foot to the beat as I sang to the tune. I was interrupted by the sound of my cell phone, which was lying on the end of the bed. I knew by the ringtone that it was my sweetheart Mandy. I stopped playing and gently set the guitar down on the bed before reaching over to grab the phone. I flipped open the phone and held it up to my ear.
"Hey, what's up?" I said. There were a few seconds of silence.
"Hey, Josh, are you home?" she asked in a calm voice. I knew right away that something wasn't right.
"Yeah, why?" I asked.
"I need to talk to you about something, and it's really important," she told me. I began to wonder what this was about.
"Yeah, my parents aren't home, so we can talk over here," I said.
"No," she said quickly. "I need you to come over to my house," she insisted. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was upset about something. I got up from my bed,
"Yeah, I'll be right over. Are you ok?" I asked, picking up my car keys and walking out of my room. There was silence on the other end of the line. I knew she was holding back something.
I asked again, "Mandy? What's bothering you?" There were another few seconds of silence before I heard her take a deep breath.
"Just please get over here and I'll talk about it then," she said.
"I'm on my way out of the house as I speak. I'll be there shortly. Ok?" I tried to reassure her.
"See you then. Love you Josh," Mandy said.
"I love you too," I said back. I waited for her to hang up before I flipped my phone shut.
By now, I was rushing to get my sandals on and get out of the house. I got into my car, and as I drove I had many thoughts running through my mind.
What's so important that she couldn't tell me over the phone? I thought to myself. I tried not to jump to conclusions until I talked to her first, but it was hard not too. The first thing that was passing though my mind was that she was going to dump me, but I knew it couldn't be that. As my mind was racing, I turned onto Cameron Street, where Mandy lived. The closer I got to her house, the faster my heart seemed to beat. I had been down this road before, so why did this feel so different?
As I pulled into her parents' driveway, that feeling of nervousness, however, was worse than anything I'd ever experienced, and I didn't know why. After turning my car off, I got out and walked up the path to the front door. Before I even knocked, the front door swung open with Mandy behind it. She smiled, not saying a word. I could tell she had been crying by the redness around her eyes. She came up to me and wrapped slender arms around me tightly. I wrapped my arms as well around her slim body.
"Josh, I'm so glad you came. Come in," she said as we let go from our embrace. I walked into the house and took my sandals off by the door. She closed the door behind me and said, "I know, you're probably wondering what this is about."
"Well, yeah. What's going on?" I said as I followed Mandy into the living room. She walked had her hands the pocket of her white sweatshirt and looking down at the floor. I knew something was bothering, but what? I sat down on the couch and looked at her with concern.
"I don't know how to tell you this," she said. She walked over to the couch and sat down beside me.
"Look, Mandy. Just tell me what's going on. I'm here for you, no matter what," I said, holding her hands and trying to comfort her. Tears started to flow from her eyes and could tell she was holding back something from me.
"Mandy?" I said curiously as I was beginning to get nervous as too why she was hesitant from telling me what's wrong. I tried to think of what was causing her so much pain, but nothing was coming to mind. There was a moment of silence except for her whimpering; then she broke the silence.
"I'm pregnant," she whispered staring down at the floor. At first, I didn't know what exactly she said, but then I thought I was imagining what I just heard. I asked the first thing that came to my mind, "You're what?"
Mandy looked me straight in the eye and repeated, "I'm pregnant."
I couldn't speak. In that moment, my world as I knew it just stopped. My mouth was open and my green eyes widen like a waxing moon. I looked back at her with disbelief trying to think of something to say, but nothing was coming in clear. All that was repeating in my mind was, 'I'm pregnant' like a broken record. I let go of her hand and got up from the couch.
"Josh," Mandy was staring at me waiting for me to say something, "Josh?" she repeated. I slowly made my way over to the kitchen, where I leaned up against the kitchen counter top, while staring down at the floor as the shock began to set in.
"How could this happen?" I asked, turning around and looking back at her, still leaning my back against the counter. I couldn't think of anything else to say, but I knew how it happened. I wasn't naïve about it.
"That night when I stayed with you at…" she tried to say, but I interrupted in anger.
"I know when it happened!" I said raising my voice. She didn't need to tell me. I knew full well how this happened. She stayed with me at my dorm room back on campus, a couple weeks prior. At the time, it wasn't any different from all the other times when she stayed with me at my dorm room. But, now this was different on all levels.
"Please, don't be mad, Josh," Mandy said, avoiding eye contact with me.
"Well, what do you want me to do, Mandy? Jump for joy? How can I?" I yelled in frustration. It was the truth, how did she expect me to react to this? I was in no position of being a father. It never crossed my mind until this very moment and scares me from head to toe.
"Hey!" She got up form the couch. "This wouldn't have happened if you had used a condom in the first place," Mandy fired back, pointing at me.
"Well, excuse me, but I thought you were taking birth control!" I said defending myself.
"I ran out about a week before that and I didn't have time to get a refill!" she screamed back.
"And you told me that I didn't need to put one on?" I said in amazement that she didn't say anything beforehand.
"That's not the point; you still should have put one on anyway!" Mandy said.
"I'm sorry, but when you're in the heat of the moment, you tend to forget things." I said, but now when I look back, that was a stupid answer on my part.
"Then maybe shouldn't have been drinking alcohol in first place, Josh!"
"So were you!"
"Not as much as you were!" She said trying to put the full blame on me.
"That doesn't make a difference! You're just as much at fault on this as I am!" I said as I started to pace. Mandy, meanwhile, didn't say anything right away.
"Ok," Mandy calmed down and took a deep breath, "So we're both at fault here," Mandy admitted, looking away again.
"Yeah, exactly!" I said. She looked back at me, and there were a couple minutes of awkward silence because I didn't know what else to say. Suddenly, Mandy broke the silence.
"Do you any idea how my life is going to change?" Mandy asked me, but I didn't have an answer I was still trying to comprehend the situation. She became impatient, walked right up to me, and said, "When I realized that I was pregnant, I didn't know what to think. All I could think of was how much I would have to give up, Josh! Do you have any idea what that's like?" she asked.
Although she had a point; I knew that this was going to change my life as well. "You're right, Mandy! I have no idea, but this effects me just much as you!" I yelled back. Mandy crossed her arms and gave me a stare that if looks could kill, I would have been dead right on the spot. "I have to quit school and work full-time just to take care of the baby! How do you think this makes me feel?" I argued.
"Feel like crap now, don't you?" Mandy hollered back.
"Yeah and so do you!" I said.
"No matter how you look at this, Josh, what's done has been done! You're the baby's daddy!" She said.
"Mandy! I don't want to be a father," I paused trying to think of what to say next. "I-I can't do this!"
"What are you going to do? Leave me here high and dry?" Mandy asked. I nodded my head no to her questions.
"I don't know, I-I don't know what to think right now." I said as I walked into the living room and headed to the living room window, trying to think straight. Mandy followed me into the living room, but stood several feet away from me.
"Do your parents know anything about this yet?" I asked looking back at Mandy. She shook her head no.
"Oh my god," I whispered putting my hands on the back of my head. "No, no, no! This can't be real! It just can't be!" I said as I started pacing back and forth. Now, knowing that the parents didn't know about it yet, just made me realize how serious this was.
I turned and saw Mandy starting walking away and shouted, "I'm going to be in my room. When you're ready to talk, you let me know."
"Mandy!" I shouted as she stormed out of the room, and a couple seconds later a door slammed shut. By this point, I was still angry at her. I stood there for a minute or two trying to decide whether to try talking to her again or just leave and come back when I was calmed down.