For a long time, I dreamt of her.
I dreamt of her and her olive skin, a cascade of dark blond hair, her delicate manners.
For a long time, I kept dreaming of her. She had left abruptly after claiming that I had mistreated her, which I certainly did. She had done way worse, through manipulation and later, repetitive attacks with the intention of causing hurt. I, like an idiot, would take everything in although aware that it would not be sane, or safe. I had this great idea that love would conquer all. Throw knives at me, unfold your rage, sadness and put it on my, throw an “I love you,” my way and it would all be forgiven before any realization. I did love wholeheartedly, unbounded, with no limits. My love was grand. I loved too much, and I still do sometimes, on isolated occasions. I still loved her after she left. I knew should would come back after proving herself right. Her twisted, right-handed world in which the wheel of fortune always turned her way. She did come back.
Katrina would always dick me around. She would lie. She would be nowhere to be found when we had to meet. She would toss me away.
That was the bad picture. There were some good days, actually quite a few. We were crazy. She would follow me in any of my improbable plans, which I had a knack for. There was the dancing. The laughter. The drinking. The drugs. The boys. And I loved her for that.
It was an age where I was very naïve; I know this now. Being of such innocence must have been part of my charm. I would rhapsodize before anything, sober. Every street corner was exotic to me. Each subway ride was a time-travel. I was insatiable. Years later, I dealt with such sensitivity with prose. I became a writer.
But back then, I was just an odd one feeling at ease in my oversized clothes, short hair and dirty canvas shoes. Katrina cross roads high school. She had her own clique, and I befriended the wild ones. However, we truly became friends through a summer job. We became inseparable, went to college together. We hung out everyday, my parents were startled: I never had a girlfriend before. They liked her a lot. From their point of view, she seemed to be an angel coming to save me from my odd ways.
She was crazy, or I thought she was. I was mistaken; I was the crazy one. I would follow her lead, but cues did not come to her naturally, I now realize. Katrina looked original, and she was beautiful. But her own aura was only fueled by other people’s energy. You would never find her alone, for she would wither.
Katrina broke up with me in the most hostile manner. One day, she stopped speaking to me. She had found, possibly the cruelest way to get by, for we had class in the same building, lived in the same part of the town and mostly, worked the same student job. She would treat me cold, like a stranger. First I did not notice. We were a little less close than before, she had switched majors while I carried on. She soon found a new job, a job that required her to be beautiful, while I was left to wander in the alley of the drugstore. As brilliant as she was, she always only got complimented for her looks. In our power couple, I was designated as the one with the brain. Looking back now, I might have also been the free-spirited one.
She dropped out of school. It truly broke my heart. Such a smart girl, I felt like she gave it up only because she could not stand to be herself. But no one knew here really. She would build a new façade in front of any newcomer.
After weeks, which seem like months, Katrina and I were speaking again. We talked things out. She said that I had been inexplicitly rough with her. She was telling the truth. My behavior was a reaction to how she would treat me. I would take it, but it would somehow come off as right to her.
We made-up. We did. I completed my degree and stepped into graduate school with distinction. She did not look back into school again and never mentioned anything about academia. Time to time, we would meet casually like old acquaintances, trying to catch-up. We would never call or speak about personal stories. I still looked like the lost one.
I was there when she met her husband for the first time. He was a chef at this restaurant we would routinely eat at on Friday mornings. She had been having an affair with my cousin, who was also my best friend, although I had told him not to. As far as I was concerned, she had cheated me. Neither of them told me the story of what happened. I found out as I went to her place and found his shirt, one of the ones I had given him. As Marc told me later, he never had the courage of going back to take it. She had trapped us.
I lost it when I heard the story. I stopped speaking with Katrina, immediately. I yelled at Marc, the closest person I had been to for a decade. We had been inseparable since high school. I had never seen him so sorry. “We were afraid of your reaction,” he’d tell me. How could you not be, holding dirty secrets when I warned you that such a behavior would hurt me?
I felt sorry about it. When a few years before, as teenagers, we had stopped speaking, I did not think it was possible for someone to cry so much over someone else. I never cried so much before or later in life. It was not so much the break-up than the silence and the lack of explanation that made it feel as such. The helplessness that would turn into self-loathing. That made me unable to forgive her even after she explained herself. She had watch me suffered for months, an eternity when you are nineteen. She never knew how much pain she had caused, and how much she caused after we made-up. I was being punished for loving too much and years later, I would still pay the price.
Oh, dear Katrina! I thought of you and wrote stories, even wrote songs about you. Songs that were too sappy to be sung, but stories that caught on. Every time, I’d change the name and the setting. But it would still be you, not that it was worth mentioning.
After the affair, we did make-up, years later — social media as one of the wonderful marvels of communication. To everyone’s surprise, I became a successful writer; sometimes, being half-crazy could take you quite far. Some will admire you although most will fear you. Little will dare to join the circus; in our young years, she did so. I thought we were the same person, but my disease was infectious.
We met again, by fate, or coincidence, sometimes even coffee dates. I called her when a friend, one I had known well but then passed away. However, I would always meet her reluctantly. For a long time, she would be the only human being that I knew personally generating disgust into my mind.
“How’s Katrina?” my mother would always ask me. “Who’s Katrina,” was the answer I’d wish to give. She had broken my mom’s heart as well. She thought of her as an angel, my savior. But I was not the one who ended-up as a divorced, ex-trophy wife before I turning 26. She was such a brilliant kid. I was not, but turned-out all right. Maybe it’s because my own parents never told me I was special. They just thought I was plain mad.
And for the time we’d meet, following the affair, I was always in control. I didn’t ask her any questions, turning into this self-centered persona she herself had always been before with me. I didn’t ask her about her job, or her life, didn’t want to find out about her being happy or not, I didn’t even look at her. She was incapable of winning my sympathy.
So we saw each other again. But I didn’t really see her. My guard was up, clear walls saying that she would never make way back it. She was too evil to get another trial. By evil, I mean manipulative.
Also, Katrina made me sad. I felt so sorry for her all the time, for no particular reason. She was a victim of her own self. As if she lacked the capacity of taking care of her own person. After she divorced, she headed back to school. She was finally going to do something off her own.
So, for a long time I dreamt of her. I dreamt of her as you still dream of your first heartbreak. I dreamt of her as how much such an event shapes you. I lived through many tragic stories breaking young boys and girls hearts. But somehow, I would always be a nineteen year-old with short hair and baggy jeans sobbing uncontrollably in her parent’s driveway after her best friend would not pick-up the phone.