For a while I dated this girl named Dee. She was really cool-- a buff on old movies, into very dark literature and horror movies, had one foot in the goth and punk scenes in the city. We didn't have a lot in common, but it was exciting to get a window through her into that world. You know?
In the end the relationship just didn't work. We made a lot of transitions too quickly, and on top of that, she was just kind of fucking crazy. It was my weirdest relationship so far, hands down.
First of all, she had VERY severe OCD, or something, so we never touched. She said she might be ready for it “some day” but that until then we couldn't even hold hands. I tried to surprise her with a peck on the cheek a few times, and she'd jerk away, and get angry, and stormed off. I'd hear back from her a few days later, and she wouldn't even talk about it.
And yet, White Knight that I was, we moved in together after just a few months, when she said her apartment was being fumigated. She didn't move back for the duration of our relationship. Which was when I discovered her second set of eccentricities: She barely ever slept. She always went to bed after me and woke up before, and would spend most of the night reading or sitting on the internet. Which explained why she always seemed so tired-- the pale face and dark circles weren't makeup after all.
Dating Dee was an emotional roller coaster. I think I'd also diagnose her as manic-depressive, because she always looked so tired and expressed a lot of textbook depressive thoughts-- wishing she didn't exist, wanting to just run away or lie down and ignore problems, wanting to shut people out and ignore them. But she also had this kind of endless, borderline-desperate energy that she tapped into when we were going to clubs or when we had a fight (and there were lots of them. Fool that I was, I kept trying to improve her sleep schedule and get her to find a therapist to talk to. I have a hard time dating someone and not helping them improve themselves).
One day, out of the blue, she broke up with me. She said that things just couldn't work out between us. I asked what I had done wrong, and infuriatingly, she kept saying that I was great, I'd been a perfect gentleman, that I'd put up with her bullshit and shouldn't have had to. And in retrospect, I agree-- I invested an awful lot in her for no real return.
But she was gone, and I was definitely in love with her, so it was heartbreaking for a while.
I kept running into Dee, which wasn't surprising, given that we lived in a small town. Whenever she saw me a dark look would come over her and she'd hustle away. This happened once every week or so until I moved about a state away, and never thought I'd cross her path again.
But one day, about two months after moving, I saw her come out of a McDonald's with this really overweight person, arm-in-arm. I did a doubletake; first of all, why was she here? Was she following me? And second of all: She was TOUCHING that dude! I was excruciatingly aware of her no-touching policy; it had tortured me for almost a year. Was she dating him? And what did HE have that I didn't? I was suddenly feeling very insecure.
Then the large person turned their face, and I saw suddenly that it was a woman-- I'd mistaken her for a man because of her size. It clicked in my head that Dee had been a lesbian, which was maybe why she'd been able to conquer her fears with this androgynous person. And then I felt bad for not realizing it, and for making flash judgments about the overweight, so I hurried off.
Didn't explain what she was doing in my new city, though
I saw Dee around town a few more times, never alone, never with the same people, but I didn't think much of it. Like bumping into any old Ex-, I tried to push it from my mind instead of obsessing.
Then I saw her on TV.
It was just after the tsunami that totaled that Japanese power plant. The reactor was definitely melting down, and not even the Japanese government was bothering to cover it up at that point. Any survivors in the area were doomed, the radiation poisoning was going to kill them within a year. And yet there were still Peace Corps volunteers to face certain death in that nightmare, just to fish those doomer survivors out and make them comfortable. Heroism at its most extreme. And I just happened to look up from my textbooks at the news in time to see Dee among them.
It was pretty shocking. I'd known that Dee was often depressed, and wondered if this was her excuse for suicide-- to die doing something really humane and worthwhile. It was a morose thought, and I was perturbed for days afterwards.
The next time I saw Dee in the neighborhood, I decided I had to go talk to her, to say what an incredible thing she'd done in volunteering in the plant meltdown overseas. Anyone brave and compassionate enough to do something like that deserves acknowledgment. I was also just worried about her, and wanted to get a sense of whether she was okay or not.
When she saw me headed towards her, her eyes widened and filled with tears, and she dashed off, away from me. I ran after her, calling her name, but I lost her after a few blocks. That manic energy carried her on while I stood panting.
Her face had been like we'd broken up yesterday, and she was still upset about it. I thought that maybe she'd followed me after all, and worried a little bit about having a stalker like her. But I'd never pegged her as dangerous, just kind of tragically damaged.
I had to rethink that opinion of her when, as I was driving down a rural highway to visit my parents one night, a truck came around a sharp turn far too quickly and slammed headlong into the driver's side of my car. I blacked out for a minute, and found myself on the pavement, scratched but otherwise unharmed. I looked up, and my car was absolutely totaled. The place I'd been sitting mere minutes earlier was now a twisted snarl of metal and plastic. As I tried to work out how I'd survived, I saw the passenger door of the truck open, heard a gasp, and by the dim light of its remaining headlight I watched Dee run out into the woods.
I might have hallucinated the whole thing, or mistaken some other woman for Dee-- again, I had a head injury. The truck's driver had blood on her forehead, but came out, stammering apologies over and over. He said there'd been nobody else in the vehicle, and asked me if my head was okay, but I couldn't shake the feeling that Dee had tried to kill me.
We were forced to wait for the trucker's triple-A to arrive, and I wound up missing the visit with my folks.
I didn't put it all together until Seal Team 6 assassinated Osama Bin Laden. Towards the end of the hype, Reuters magazine purchased the photos taken during the raid. They're gory, blood-soaked, grotesque-- they horrified a lot of people. But me most of all.
There, in one of the photos, was Dee. Incredibly, she was just wearing her street clothes, sitting on the couch next to Bin Laden's corpse. She didn't seem surprised, she was just smirking down at his body. And none of the seals were acknowledging her.
I emailed the photos to my mom, who'd met Dee a few times during our relationship, and asked her if it looked like Dee to her. But she didn't understand who I was referring to; she said there was no girl on the couch.