She was robbed of all softness to her, there was nothing about her that screamed she was a woman. In my 21-year-old mind, I am equating woman with makeup and voluptuousness. I want to meet people from all different walks of life! I have to know everyone’s story!
I was working as a Field Organizer for The Kentucky Democratic Party, and it was election night. I had just gotten off the phone with my boss. I found out that I had just been a part of my fifth loss as a Democrat in the state of Kentucky. I was in a bar, some hole in the wall in Louisville, Kentucky.
I turned my phone off completely and went up to the bartender, “I need a whisky, three fingers.”
Bartender nods, and I smell a musky odor waft my way. “Been a rough night, eh?”
I look over at the person sitting next to me. She has sandy brown hair, and she was full of way more life than I had at the current moment.
“my name is Dria!”
She exclaims. She is roughly 24 years old. She is skinny, and she doesn’t look healthy. She has beautiful, and long curly hair.
As bad of a mood I was in at that moment, her personality was infectious! I threw back the shot of whisky. “It’s nice to meet you! My name is Mae Knight!”
She asks what I am doing in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I was supposed to be celebrating something tonight-no big deal.”
“We can still celebrate!” She screams over the music someone at the jukebox is playing.
She asks where I’m from.
“I currently live in Owensboro, Kentucky. Where are you from?”
Dria laughs, “I’m from everywhere and nowhere! No one can tie me down! I am my own person and I love life and I love living! You do too! I can tell! Something is wrong though!”
I smile, “I try really hard, Dria.” I drop my head down and stare at my whisky. I feel myself start to tear up. I need to be away from this place. I need to be back at my hotel. “Do you live here in Louisville, Dria?”
Dria drops her head in shame, “… I’m homeless.”
I choke back a cry, “Do you need a place to sleep tonight, Dria? I have a motel…. My job paid for it.”
Dria lovingly wipes away my tears, “Let’s get out of here honey!”
We set down on the bed in the motel. Dria starts twirling her hair, and it has knots in it.
“Do you want to take a shower, Dria?”
Dria shakes her head eagerly with a smile.
“I usually LOVE showers! It’s my favorite part of the day! I love the way I feel after taking a shower.” She starts to strip naked in front of me. I am embarrassed. I have never seen a nude female body before. She notices I’m embarrassed.
“What’s wrong honey? Haven’t you ever seen boobs before?”
I start to laugh, “I’ve seen my own!”
I pull out my suitcase, “Do you like Adderall, Dria?”
Dria looks at my bottle, “Oh honey! We are gonna have fun tonight!”
She takes three Adderalls and starts to crush up them up on the back of the toilet. I had only ever read about it, but the whisky is starting to hit me, and I just don’t care!
I take a line and snort it. It hits me all at once and everything feels okay and happy and like eating chocolate or the first kiss I have ever had with my high school crush, or the feeling I get when my favorite song comes on the radio! I was ALIVE! Dria is standing in front of me naked and she is undressed and snorting a line of Adderall off the back of a toilet seat. I decide to undress too. No one besides my parents has ever seen me naked up until this point.
She stares at my overweight body. She is not disgusted. She is not embarrassed for me. There is only openness and warmth. Dria turns on the shower, “Why don’t you hop in here with me! It may make you feel better, honey!” I get in the shower. I feel a sense of both release and relief come over me as the water hits my face. The water feels good and Dria starts to wash my back with a rag. I break down in tears. Dria doesn’t stop. She keeps washing me. I keep crying and I hug Dria and she hugs me back.
I stop crying and this rush of magic euphoria washes over me. I smile at her and she smiles back. We change positions and she is standing in front of the shower now. I lather her hair for her, spending what seems like hours on each lock of hair.
I wash out the soap and I put conditioner on her head. I can tell it feels good to her.
“Thank you for this, Mae Knight.” I didn’t know why she was thanking me. After all, she was the one comforting me. We get out of the shower and I have her sit on the bed. Our naked bodies lay back to back and I brush out the tangles from her hair using my favorite green brush! I always hated those stupid motel combs!
I lay down and she lays down next to me, and she cradles me. “Why are you homeless, Dria?”
Dria sighs,”When I was seventeen my mom married an awful man…he did something bad to me…my momma told me to never come back. ME! So, I left, and I got caught up with all the wrong people, did a little heroine, and now I go to the bar every night, hoping I’ll find someone to take me home…do you hate me for telling you that?”
I start to laugh, “No Dria, that makes me like you more.”
She lets out a large laugh, “Mae, what are you most afraid of?”
I turn away from her, “Two things. One, there is a train that runs right behind my house. It runs like clockwork. Every three hours it drives past and it rattles everything in my house. I am afraid one day I am going to feel completely numb like I do somedays….and then go stand on the train tracks.”
Dria shakes her head no, “You can’t do that! You are too spec-!”
I interrupt her, “Special. That’s the second thing- my whole life everyone has been telling me I’m special. I’m scared I’ll never figure out what they are talking about. I’m afraid that I am going to go away, and all of those people that have been telling me I am special my entire life…they are going to be completely disappointed in me. And that will be it. All my gifts and talents will have been wasted on the wrong person.”
We let the air dry our warm, naked bodies. I let out a long sob. Dria goes to hold me again. At four am we both crash.
I wake up and I feel completely refreshed and rejuvenated. It is a new day! Full of completely new possibilities!
I look at Dria. She looks so peaceful, and I don’t want to wake her. I have to get going and get on the road. I kiss her on her forehead, “Thank you!” I get dressed and I leave Dria with some money and a note.
a letter and a thank you
Thank you for saving my life last night! I will never forget it! If you find your way to Owensboro, Kentucky, here is my address: 1712 Thompson Drive Apt A
I sneak out of the door and head to my car. I know I will probably never see Dria again. I leave knowing that this is one of the most intimate and human experiences I will ever have with another person in my life. I loved Dria without even knowing her, and I left with comfort knowing someone else in the world loved me too.Published in