I was out running intervals yesterday as my last bit of training for my last race of the season. I’ve been really hoping to beat my personal best of 2 hours and 18 minutes, and interval training is my last hope of becoming faster.
It was around one after noon, and I did about 2.5 miles worth of intervals, and was walking the 2.5 miles back to my car. When I’m walking, I’m impressively oblivious because walking is one of the things I do that helps me put my life into perspective; I make decisions, try to understand relationships, and I rarely take notice of anything that’s going on around me.
So it was weird that I noticed one particular biker as she rode past me. I kind of looked at her, then kept going.
Then, I heard someone call out from behind me, “KJ?”
KJ was my softball name because Katie was the name of at least one other girl on pretty much every team I was on, so I became KJ.
But who would be calling me KJ nowadays?
I turned around and saw the bike rider stopped and staring at me.
“Who are you?” I asked awkwardly.
Sara was my catcher when I was 15.
“You’re kidding! Oh my gosh it’s been like ten years since I’ve seen you!”
I walked over to Sara and we tried to quickly catch up on each other’s lives. I told her that I’m teaching and am currently on Spring Break, then I asked what she’s been up to since I last saw her.
“You went to West Point, right?”
“Yeah. Then I went overseas as a police officer.”
“That’s awesome. Where’d you go?”
“Africa. Japan. Germany.”
“That’s really cool. I love traveling.”
She seemed a little shy suddenly and said something about how nice it was just to be home. I found out that she just got back to Tucson and is looking for a job.
“What kind of job are you looking for?” I asked.
“Anything but being a police officer,” she said.
We started to wrap up the conversation, and I decided to hang out with her if she was willing, so we exchanged digits.
“You know,” she started, “it’s lucky I recognized you. You’re the first person I’ve recognized other than my parents for about a year.”
“I had serious brain damage.”
“I got beaten up really bad. Then I got beaten up again.”
“You got beaten up as a police officer?”
What do you say in a moment like that?
One particular memory jetted through my head of Sara, sitting in a hotel room alone, reading, and crying because someone died in her book.
The other girls on the team made fun of Sara for that, because they always saw her as that weird home schooled kid (even though she wasn’t home schooled), who didn’t talk about boys with us or care much what she looked like.
She was just sitting there, sobbing because a fictional person had died.
And now she was standing in front of me, telling me about brain damage and horrors I can’t stop imagining… and I wondered who the people were who beat her up and why they did it. I wondered if they just saw her as a foreign police officer in uniform, or if it occurred to them that she might just be a girl who cries when fictional people face tragedy. I wondered how one person could ever intentionally, violently damage another person without wondering what their victim was like at fourteen.