Things I Will Miss, Volume 4
I meant to do this more. I meant to do it faithfully. But I haven't and I didn't, but this one is important and worth it, so here it is:
I am going to miss Katy.
I met her in our two week TA training in August of '03. I wasn't very good in my head back then. The first thing I did when I entered that room was this: I evaluated the boys. I checked them out. Each and every one of them. Were they cute? Were they even sort of cute? If not, could there be some sort of redeeming quality that would make me love them in unreasonable ways? Would they be a guitar-playing poet? A boy who could read me the great literary works in their originally published language? Would the boys have strange facial tics that would make me want to smoothe my palms down their cheeks in an effort to make it all stop? Would they have a dance they did when they were drunk or happy? Who was I going to love? Who, and why?
The second thing I did when I entered the room was this: I evaluated the girls. I was sussing out who was going to be competition. After all, I had my eye on one of the older TAs, and I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, if there wasn't any steep competition, maybe I'd get a chance to show him what I had.
I looked around the room. I blinked. I assessed. And I breathed a sigh of relief when each girl announced her status. Engaged, engaged, taken, God-fearing, married, taken, married.
Katy was one of the taken ones. So I figured she'd be okay. She wouldn't be a problem. She wouldn't get in the way of my subtle and ingenious seduction, which in the end didn't get me jack squat.
Katy sat over on the wall opposite mine in our first office. My dartboard hung near her head. She had the nice radio and the Kleenex I had to borrow the second week of school when one of my students came in and plunked herself on the blue couch and started crying because it was hopeless, all of it, she'd never amount to anything, and she hadn't done a single piece of homework in any of her classes since school started, mostly because she'd been drinking a lot and making out with some boys, one of whom was in our class.
Katy saved the day with that one. Kleenex. I needed reams of it that day.
Katy got wide-eyed and silly whenever boys came around. She liked to giggle. She liked to wear chunky-heeled shoes. She hung up motivational posters that the boys hated, mocked, and threatened to take down. I would later learn that during that first semester she puked every single day before she went in to teach.
I don't know when something shifted, but it did. I think it was probably after she got engaged. That, too, is a beautiful story. Her future husband--the man I like to think of as my own adopted husband because he's been so good to me--proposed to her when they were still living in the trailer they bought for very little money so that they could save for the house they were this close to buying. When people compare crappy proposal stories, Katy likes to throw down. "Oh yeah?" she'll say. "He got you flowers you're allergic to? So what? I was proposed to in a trailer park."
And people are usually awed by that.
Not me, though. "At least you were proposed to," I'd tell her, because this was pre-Wily Republican, and I was still itchy and trying to get used to my boy-less Minnesota situation.
One night Katy showed up at my apartment. I'd invited her over because she needed some sort of clothes to borrow. And then we ended up lounging around my bedroom and trying on different outfits. We did this for hours. At the end and just as she was leaving, Katy clapped her hands together excitedly. "I'm so happy!" she said. "I have a girly friend again!"
I know a lot of people like to think of me as girly, but the world I came from--my pre-Minnesota world--had me ranked near the top as one of the least girly. Sure I like boots and sparkles and pink and boys and clothes and earrings and makeup, but that's nothing. If I need to, I can get ready in 30 minutes--shower, clothes, hair, makeup, everything. I can spend days without changing into an outfit I'd wear in public. I am completely content with a Sunday afternoon of NASCAR-watching and bacon-eating.
I think Katy was a little stunned by me. Unlike her, I showered every single day. I would do my hair before I went into public. I would not wear clothes that didn't look good on me, no matter how cute they might seem when hanging in the closet. I shopped at places other than the clearance rack at Kohl's.
So maybe I was a little good for her. Maybe I gave her the girly things, and maybe she gave me other things. They're not necessarily non-girly, but they are oh-so Katy. She clipped coupons for me. She'd slip me a $5 eyebrow wax coupon and request that we drive to Walmart to buy pop or cornstarch. She took me to Menards. She forced me to try lefse. She talked about poop. She taught me how to make a fine tater tot hotdish. She opposed anything Wily-Republican related, and, one night at the town's dance club, reached over and pulled his shirt up, exposing his stomach and chest, and tweaked one of his nipples. Then she scampered away. Those things--those uniquely Katy-like things--kept me balanced and in check.
I was the maid of honor at her wedding, and it was one of the most beautiful pleasures I had during the three years of my Minnesota life. I got to hold her dress while she peed and she didn't even get mad at me when my lipstick smudged on the pristine white material as I helped her into it. She didn't roll her eyes when I made fun of her revulsion at the menu of a Minneapolis restaurant we'd once visited--a revulsion that forced her to order only a baked potato, with only butter and nothing else fancy, thank you--in my dinner speech.
She's been through it all with me, even more so in this past year. Most nights of the week I was over at her house, sacked out on her couch and shoving my face with some sort of brownie or cookie batter/dough we'd whipped up. We drank a lot of pink champagne and watched a lot of American Idol. We spent a lot of time running errands and buying shoes.
And the thing is I could fill pages and pages and pages with Katy anecdotes and strange things we did together, things that illustrate how good and crazy and fun she is, things that show you what she's done for and meant to me for the last three years, but it just wouldn't be enough. It could never be enough to really tell you what it's like to be this girl's friend.
A few days ago I left Minnesota. After moving out of my apartment, I stayed on at Katy and Matt's for a little bit. The morning I left Katy walked me out to my car and I started crying because I'm a bit of a crier and not so fond of things like goodbyes, leaving, or change.
I didn't want her to see me crying, so I turned and put my back to her. I faced my open car door and tried to gather myself.
"Are you falling in love with the door?" she asked.
Then she reminded me that I'd never farted in front of her--which was something I'd promised I'd do before I left Minnesota because Katy was convinced I don't do those types of things since, unlike her--the girl who will release gas at any moment of the day, in any type of situation, and then tell you to smell it--I can control those types of functions.
Those were my last moments with Katy. She mocked me, then told me she was sad because I never farted in front of her.
And I guess, really, what other way could it have ended?