Friday, July 8, 2011

Desperately seeking Kitty

Increasing use of social media has led to the development of a new kind of relationship. For lack of a better name, I call it guarded intimacy. It's like you will tell anybody almost any intimate detail about yourself but you won't give your full name, or address, or phone number, nothing that would let another person actually reach out and touch you; For the past six or seven years I have had such a relationship with a young woman on line. For the life of me I cannot recall how we first came into contact but over the next few years except for some troubling interruptions, we chatted online almost every day when we were in touch. She was always guarded about her personal information and I respected that but occasionally she would slip and over time I could put together a picture of her life. I do know her name and she has sent me pictures of herself.

She never would tell me exactly where she lived though and that raised some suspicion. I am not stupid. I know people will con you and lie to you on line but I also know it is very difficult to maintain a lie for six or seven years, so I am fairly confident she has been honest with me. Even one time when I felt so sorry for her and wanted to send her a warm winter coat, she had too much pride to let me do it.

Mind you this was a very troubled young woman. Among other things I learned was that she was a runaway from her family in Texas, sometime before her 18th birthday. By what path I don’t know, but she ended up in Cleveland. Along the way and there, she did turns as a prostitute and suffered from an addiction to methamphetamine, though she would hardly call it suffering. Part of the suffering comes from the hepatitis C she contracted from a dirty needle.

She seemed to get by moving in with a series of men, leaving when one tired of her and then finding another. Most of them were abusive and at least one of them turned her out to work on the street.

I could tell by her typing when she was high and occasionally lost patience with her.

There were times of clarity when she displayed an amazing intellect and creativity. She read books, her choices in music were eclectic and she showed an affinity for Irish folk music, not the hard rock one might expect from a meth user. She seemed to like plaintive ballads as well and was always suggesting I listen to this or that singer. She could be very insightful as well catching me at times in inconsistencies and calling me on them.

There was a time in Cleveland one night we were chatting and her typing gradually degenerated and she became more and more incoherent and then said she felt sick and wanted to know what to do. I was pretty sure she was having some kind of a drug-related reaction. Turns out the man she was living with at the time had injected her with a mix of drugs and she had no idea what was in it. She asked what to do and I said contact a neighbor. Fortunately she did this and the neighbor came on asking me what was going on and I suggested drug overdose, gave her an idea of first aid and to call paramedics. My friend ended up in the hospital for a time and then ended up living with the woman who saved her.

But she destroyed that one night when the woman was away, she got high and invited friends over who trashed the woman’s apartment.

This is getting longer than it needs to be. Over time there were highs and lows but in between there were some wonderful conversations and gentle chiding to clean up and make something of herself. She even audited some college courses and for one semester took a writing course. What she wrote could be beautiful.

More recently she moved to St. Louis. During that period she did well for a while but had a relapse and at one point told me she knew how the world worked and I was wrong. At that point I figuratively threw up my hands in frustration and didn’t talk to her for almost a year. But I kept track of her. She is the most avid reader of this blog. If you combine the hits from Cleveland and St. Louis there are almost 200, by far more than from any other single ISP. In following the hits I at least knew she was alive and that was reassuring.

Then after almost a year, last fall I answered one of her IMs and we renewed our relationship. Still like before she was very guarded about personal information. She told me she had a job and I could sort of confirm that by the regularity and schedule of when she came on line. She had her own place and told me she had cleaned up and had been off drugs for a while after reaching the lowest point ever and seeking help. We talked almost daily until a few weeks ago.

She was going to try camping though she had never done it before. Among other things I told her to set up the borrowed tent in her apartment so she would know how before she had to set it up in a hurry at some campsite. It turned out she had so much trouble with it she put off her trip for a week. Though she never told me she was going the following week, when she didn’t show up online over the weekend, I figured she was camping.

But then I didn’t hear from her for almost two weeks. I worried she had been mugged as she was going to a fairly public park in the St. Louis area. When she came back on two weeks later I discovered it was worse than that. I noticed from the blog counter she was using a different computer (Mac now instead of PC) and signing on through a different ISP. I asked her why. That is when she told me she had given away all her stuff including her computer because she tried to kill herself. I always knew this was in the undercurrent but the reality of it was chilling.

That of course upset the life she had with her own place and job and I learned she was now in a room with some sort of social agency that was helping her. Again we started talking almost every day but only for about two weeks.

In one of her conversations she told me that I was the only one in the world who stood by her that she had no one else. That was after I asked her where she could find some support. In that conversation she asked me who she should live for. Who she should live for? I tried to support her because I knew it was a serious question but my answer was in the long run, you live for yourself. I could tell by her hesitation and then her very noncommittal response, my answer wasn't good enough, not convincing. That response gave me a sinking feeling that this was deadly serious and for once I felt incredibly helpless to somehow intercede and change her direction, to somehow say the magic words that would make it all right.

I have not heard a thing from her since then. The last time she looked at this blog was June 27. Not a hit or a word since then. Given what was going on in her mind I am very worried. The only thing that gives me any hope for her is that knowing she is from Texas, even knowing she never wanted to go back to her abusive parents, maybe she did go back to her family. There have been hits the past couple of days from two ISPs around Dallas with several page views. That’s a very thin thread. So, I guess the length of this speaks to how worried I am. Which just goes to show that guarded intimacy can lead to some very deep connections and, I hope, explains why I am “desperately seeking Kitty.”

2 comments:

  1. So sad, Timothy, So sad....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Patricia MonaghanJuly 21, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    My goodness, this is such a wrenching story. I hope Kitty is alive and pulling through.

    ReplyDelete

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“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

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"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

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"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

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Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

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After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

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