I looked at the route that Google Maps gave me to drive my RV back to Austin. The route went right past Mandeville, Louisiana. That's where Katya lives.
I hadn't seen her in years. We broke up four years ago, and I only saw her once since then, three years ago. She randomly showed up with her fiancee and took all of the big stuff she'd left at my house. Her fiancee apologized as we carried her bed frame that I'd been sleeping on for a year to his car.
The last time I talked to her was over a year ago. She called while I was recovering from lasering my eyes, so I was basically disabled and sort of groaned and mumbled while she told me about her sentence in jail. I hung up with the distinct idea that I'd probably never talk to her again.
Not intentionally, just a "I probably won't call her, and these calls can't be very satisfying to her" sort of thing.
Anyway, seeing her city was a fleeting thought. One of many little things that make me think about her for a second and move on.
Later in the day I straightened out my US cell phone service. Most people don't leave me messages on my old phone number because it says not to, but a few slip though. I check them once a month.
"Three new messages. First new message. From 504..."
That's Katya's area code. It seems like every time she calls it's from a different number, but I always know it's her because it begins with 504.
The first message is blank. So is the second. The third one comes on and I'm expecting it to be blank too.
It's her, and she just happened to call the day before I was going to be driving right by where she lives. It's the only time I've driven by there since breaking up four years ago.
The next day as I'm driving the RV I call her back. We chat for a while and catch up. She says she's got her life together. She's going to school, working at her mom's salon, and trying to transfer to Loyola.
"I'm going to come visit you."
"Tonight. I can't make it there until 2am, though. Will you be awake?"
"I don't care what time you come. You can sleep over here."
And so I continued driving with six hours to think about the visit before it actually took place. What would it be like to see her? I had no idea if I'd be happy to see her, angry, or something in between.
Just before 2am I pulled into her neighborhood. I'd only been there a few times, but it still looked familiar. I was nervous, not because of what she'd think of me, but because of what I'd think of her.
I called her and told her I was outside.
She answered the door in a baggy t shirt and pajama pants. She looked beautiful and was smiling at me in that adoring way that made me go crazy for her in the first place. I was glad I came to see her.
She was always the right size for me. When we hugged her head nestled under my neck like it always had. Even though it had been so long, it still felt familiar.
We walked upstairs to her room and sat on her bed. I told her about my trip and she told me about her life. I told her that I was proud and happy for her, and she told me that I had the most interesting life and was weird.
Past memories were recounted in conspiring tones with wide grins across our faces. Past offenses against each other were brought up with understated apologies and were dismissed with smiles.
After talking for a couple hours I was exhausted and laid down. She turned off the light.
She slid over and laid her head on my chest just as she used to back when we were together.
Suddenly it was as if we had never broken up. It was as if the last four years were just 30 minutes as I ran to the store to pick something up. The intimate familiarity of being with someone I'd loved and lived with overpowered the four years without contact.
I pulled her face towards me and kissed her. It's impossible to describe what a kiss feels like, but it's something you never forget and can always recognize, even years later.
The next morning we woke up early after getting not nearly enough sleep. Even though I got in late, I had to leave early to keep my schedule.
I was sad to say goodbye. This is a girl that drove me absolutely crazy in both the good way and the bad way. I loved her and hated her in equal parts while we dated, sometimes at the same time. She's not right for me and I wouldn't ever date her again.
But at the same time I'm glad we don't live closer, because I would keep seeing her and slide into that "we're not officially dating, but we actually are" grey area. No one who knows us both would ever see us as a reasonable couple, yet there's this unbreakable attraction that survives four years of almost no contact.
She called the next day and we talked about nothing. It was one of those conversations where neither of us are saying anything, but neither one wants to hang up either. With some people you get to the point where phone conversations are no longer acceptable substitutes for actually talking in person.
Maybe I'll see her soon. My life is unpredictable and you just never know. Maybe our paths won't cross for another year. Maybe we'll never see each other again. Each possibility is roughly equally likely, but I'll be happy if the opportunity to see her again comes sooner rather than later.
I woke up on Friday in an incredible amount of pain. My ankle, which I injured the night before during a particularly vigorous game of trampoline-dodgeball, had swollen the point that it looked like a bruised potato with toes dangling off.
Even the slight pressure of my blankets sent rushes of pain through my foot. I tried to get out of bed, failed amid a cloud of expletives, and got back in bed where I tried to fight off the pain by gritting my teeth and growling.
This was the day I was supposed to go to Tokyo by way of Beijing, where I had a twenty-four hour layover. As much as I had been looking forward to this trip, it occurred to me that I might not be physically capable of making it to the airport.
We both woke up to an empty bed. And as we looked into each other's eyes, she became wide eyed and blinked as if she were sleeping in a bed of onions. She took out her phone and pretended to send a text as I sat up and watched him collect his things and tell me he had to go. I walked him out the door and when I came back upstairs, she was sitting up in the bed with her hands on her forehead. I sat with her silently. We both didn't want to talk about it. So instead I asked her if she was hungry and when she nodded, we walked down to kitchen and made two bowls of cereal. She sat quietly and didn't eat much, and I filled every silence with nervous laughter and awkward conversation until she told me she had to leave.
And as I watched her leave through my kitchen window, I fell to the floor. I tried to cry, because maybe it would get rid of this feeling, but it never left and my eyes were like empty villages abandoned by tiny women that decided they needed to begin new lives. So the lonely village stayed put in my mind and in my eyes. And I touched my hair as I remember the terrifying thoughts that ran through my head as he grabbed me by my hair and pulled my face up so my lips touched his. And he kissed me over and over and as I remembered the scars he left among my face, I felt a tsunami coming of oceans filled of sea creatures and monsters that I have stored so deep in my memory, I had forgotten they existed. I remember Googling "How to get over sexual assault?" I remember typing in the words "sexual assault" and remembering a time when I told myself I'd be strong enough. That I would never fall a victim. And number one told me to seek help and talk about it, but I didn't even know where to begin. Because we had been friends for years that I knew him like the back of my hand, but as his hand moved up to my breasts, I couldn't recognize him any longer. He was just a stranger. And when I ask myself why I hadn't said anything, I hate myself for not coming up with a reason. And I worked so hard for years to make myself complete, but as he left in the morning, I noticed pieces of me still stuck on his palms, but I'm too scared to ask for them back. I will never be complete again. He carries parts of me I will never find in myself.