She was the one who ultimately broke the silence from the other end of the line. Except—she wasn’t one for breaking anything. Instead, a better way to put it is this: She was the one who smiled at the silence and kindly gestured that it was time to go.
“Can I ask you something?” She said.
Usually when I hear a phrase like this I recoil, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up at attention. Not so, here.
“Certainly you may.”
“I was wondering if you’d ever been to Rotterdam.” Rotterdam? I thought to myself.
“No, I can’t say that I have, but I’ve always wanted to go.”
“I had a feeling you did. It can get quite windy there, you know.”
In fact, didn’t know that. What’s more, I didn’t know much about the city at all, except for its unique claim to fame—that it was a city on the water. Not exactly an island, Rotterdam had a grid construction that did away with typical streets and avenues and was instead largely made up of long, slender channels of water.
Mika continued: “I think it would be fun to take a trip there someday. Maybe we could go together.”
She wasn’t coy about it or anything. No, when Mika said something like “Maybe we could go together,” she absolutely meant it as she said it. As in, it might be possible that the two of us would take a trip. She wasn’t fishing; she wasn’t trying to gauge my interest in going.
I looked through my window. The sunshine was oppressive, sure, but it was nice on my face. By the looks of it, it was already a little past noon, and I had only just put clothes on. A bright pink Oxford that was stylishly a size too large, faded black jeans, and desert boots (I have a rule that if I’m going to get dressed, it must include shoes as well). With one hand, I blocked out the sun. With the other, I pulled the phone closer and used the crook of my shoulder to tug on the long cord.
I asked: “What are you up to today?”
“Well,” she said with a sigh, and I could tell that she used the duration of the deep breath to gaze at whatever she had laid out in front of her, taking inventory of her To-Do list. “Right now I’m folding laundry. And after that I’m going to read a book. I don’t know which one yet, since I finished one last night before bed. Then, finally, I’m going to get some cat food.”
“Cat food? I didn’t know you had a cat.” In all fairness, I had not yet been to her apartment, but it seemed rather odd that this was the first I was hearing of a cat, since I had been on a heavy handful of dates with Mika. At this point, we’d been seeing each other for a little over three months.
“I don’t have a cat. Not yet, anyway, but I’ve been thinking about adopting one, and I’d like to be prepared for when I do.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I stopped myself before I broke out into absolute hysterics, which I might have, had I not thought better of it. “Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with being prepared.” I waited a moment before following up: “What kind of cat? Or, I guess, what kind of cat food are you thinking of getting?”
She chuckled and said “I’m not sure just yet. I think I’ll have fun with it. I might let the pet store clerk tap deeply into his or her expertise. And then what I think I’ll do is improvise the whole thing. Depending on how it all plays out, I might let them decide the cat for me.”
I blinked a few times in quick succession, not exactly clear on what Mika meant. “How exactly does that work?”
“Think of it this way: if the store clerk recommends a certain brand of food for kittens, I’ll just have to get a kitten. But if they talk my ear off about the best food for elderly cats, then it’s an elderly cat I’ll get.”
“I see, but what if they ask you what breed of cat you have?”
“Well, in that case…” She let the silence fill the space once more. “In that case,” she continued, “I might have to tell them I don’t know exactly which breed of cat I have, but instead I’ll paint a picture of whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s a young black cat. Maybe it has really tall hind legs with long, round ears. Maybe she’s fifteen years old, white with orange spots, and was born without a tail. Depends on what comes to mind first.”
I laughed once more, edging on hysterics yet again. “That sounds like a plan, alright. I just hope the store clerk is up to the task.”
“Me too,” she said. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“That sounds like quite the day. I was wondering if after all this you’d like to grab dinner with me. I’d love to hear more about your feline adventure over some food.”
“That sounds lovely. How does seven sound? You can pick the restaurant.”
“Seven it is.”
I told her that there was a cute new sushi restaurant perfectly placed equidistant from both our apartments. Sushi sounded fabulous, she said, and I could tell she meant it. Her feelings on food, alongside her opinions on everything else, were never said with embellishment. Speaking with Mika over the phone—much like speaking with anyone with whom I shared a genuine interest—was an absolute pleasure and never felt like a task to be completed. While she had her laundry to get folded, and I had my own set of responsibilities for the day, I could sense an unspoken agreement: Conversing with each other was not at all a chore. I hung up the phone and started on my errands for the day.
Off the beaten path and tucked away on a street that had no name, I arrived to the restaurant with five minutes to spare. Not exactly a secret spot, this particular sushi restaurant hadn’t been discovered by the masses just yet. I had read about it in a magazine just the week prior and decided it was worth a try. How bad could it be, anyway? I wasn’t particularly in the mood for sushi, but I was in the mood for intimate, quiet conversation with Mika, unencumbered by rowdy restaurant goers in an otherwise loud establishment. Rather than hedging my bets on a place I had hoped would be quiet enough, I elected for an otherwise unknown locale. And my choice paid off immediately—When I arrived, I was the only person inside, except for a lone sushi chef who appeared to double as the maître d’. Without a word, he shuffled out from behind the sushi counter and greeted me up front.
“Just one today, sir?”
“Actually, I’m waiting for someone.”
“Well, typically, we don’t seat incomplete parties, but I’ll make an exception.”
He showed me to a small booth by the window, and I ordered a whisky highball while I bided my time.
As I waited, the sole employee shuffled quickly back behind the bar, which was conveniently connected to the sushi counter, and fashioned the highball masterfully. As he did, I looked out at the empty dining room. I usually wasn’t very particular about restaurants, but on this evening it was crucial that I picked the right kind of ambiance.
I thought about the run of Mika and my relationship up to this point. I really enjoyed speaking with her, and I was feeling grateful—of all feelings—that we were scheduled to have another date in the books. When you first start seeing someone, no second (or third, or fourth) date is promised, and I was happy to be moving in the right direction with a good bit of momentum. I was especially optimistic because our first date was not an easygoing affair. I doted on the memory fondly, essentially thankful that the social missteps and otherwise awkward jitters of a bad first date were well behind us, and could be viewed in the rearview mirror as a minor bump in the road of our time together. I thought about it how different she once seemed, an exercise I often play once any relationship has made some tangible progress. I enjoy comparing the first image I have of any person with the most current reputation they have in my mind, like two photographs taken years apart. It’s an interesting assignment, to juxtapose the two very different people that stand before you—the person you know nothing about versus the other, more ingratiated person, for whom you’ve gained considerable feelings. Of course, this exercise works equally well for those with whom you have a terrible, insidious relationship. Even a great nemesis is introduced to us firstly as a banal individual. Looking back on a great friendship or rivalry is an almost magical experience, is all I mean to say. It’s a wonder what types of things time can do to a person.
We had met by pure happenstance. As random as a misdialed number, our relationship began suddenly and out of thin air. Mika was trying to reach her dentist’s office but instead reached me at my own office. For a moment, she thought I was a new receptionist, which she mentioned was odd. She had said she had only ever seen women behind the desk when she went in for checkups, but was nevertheless glad to meet me, and wondered if I could move an appointment she had on the books back a week. I told her that I was terribly sorry but that I thought she had the wrong number. Mika held firm, and told me that it was impossible she dialed the wrong number.
“I have it written down right here…(XXX) XXX - XXXX.”
That’s where I cut her off. “Ah,” I said, “but you’ve still reached me all the same. And yet, I am no dental assistant. I’m a copywriter, in fact. So it sounds like you’ve dialed the number as you’ve described it, but the destination is still incorrect.”
There was a pregnant pause, and it was the first of many between us. I typically take long pauses as a signal to panic—a sea of uncertainty within which my mind usually drowns—but not this time. Instead, I waded the ocean with ease.
After a beat, she spoke up: “I’m terribly sorry,” Mika relented, “but it looks like I’ve smudged a one. Now it appears as a four. My mistake, and I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
“It’s no trouble at all, and I can’t say for the life of me that I feel bothered in the slightest.”
Another pause. From the other end of the line, I could hear pages of a diary being swept back and forth. She spoke up: “Even a tumbleweed, with all its empty space, can be brushed up by the wind,” she said.
I sat up straight in my chair and re-seized the receiver, out of a sense that what she had just said caused the phone to loosen within my grip. “What’s that?”
Mika sighed. “Anyway, I’m sorry to demure. I’ll be sure to call the right number for my dentist next time.”
I was taken aback by her comment. “Where did you hear that line? I’ve never heard it before.”
“Well, I’m not sure, really. I think I just came up with it.”
Another bout of silence filled the line, this time my own doing. Given the interval—four seconds—I thought about the phrase over in my head, and decided that if I remembered it at the end of our conversation I’d have no choice but to write it down for safe keeping.
“That’s a pretty clever line. Poetic, even.”
“What, that? I don’t think so. It’s a nickname my friends gave me.”
“That’s the nickname you dear friends bestowed on you? Tumbleweed?”
“Well when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound the least bit flattering.” Though I didn’t hear as much, I could sense Mika had chuckled silently to herself, the tad bit embarrassed. She continued: “I have something of a reputation for being absent-minded. Sort of in one ear out the other. I can be something of an airhead.”
“Like wind through a tumbleweed. I follow.” I laughed, too.
“Precisely,” she said, with a smile, I imagined.
“Hence the phone number.”
“A perfect example, by the looks of it.”
“Listen,” I began, “When did you say you wanted to move your appointment to?”
She chuckled and replied, “A week and a half from now. I was thinking sometime on the 15th.”
“Well,” I said, thinking my words over carefully, “If you have nothing else going on between now and then, I was wondering if maybe you’d like to grab dinner with me.”
Mika said that sounded lovely.
I told her that she has my number—her dentist’s in essence, the only difference being a four instead of that pesky one.
And so, she called me later on that week, if I recall correctly. We spoke for hours, with scarcely a pause out of place. The fact of the matter was this: Speaking with Mika over the phone was nothing short of phenomenal. It was an exciting, natural feeling that was felt on both ends of the line.
For our first date, not long after our first tele-meeting, Mika and I had arranged to meet for drinks downtown at a small bar we both knew well. I had no idea who to look for—we had only spoken over the phone a handful of times and this was our first time meeting in-person. When we set up the date, Mika had told me she’d be wearing a camel-colored coat, and in turn I told her I’d be wearing a mustard-yellow sweater. “An interesting choice for a first date, but I respect the decision,” she said. Perhaps the description didn’t do it justice, but it was my favorite sweater. In all fairness, too, Mika didn’t remark on it once we actually met, so I think I was safe. True to her word, she arrived at the bar just moments after I did in the coat she had described, and her presence was unmistakable. As Mika walked through the crowded room, I could tell based on looks alone that this was her. With such a mellifluous voice had to come a matching appearance. I raised my hand to catch her attention, and she returned my wave with a warm smile.
“Well fancy I’d find you here,” she said, sitting down across from me.
“What are the odds?” I replied.
“I’d say about one in a couple hundred thousand, at least.”
I furrowed a brow and inquired: “How do you figure?”
“Well just based on the different permutations one can misdial on a telephone.”
I laughed and asked if she’d like to order a drink. She said sure.
The bar quickly grew cramped and swelled with conversation from the other guests.The both of us had to raise our voices to get through to each other, as though one of us were entering a tunnel. A pause filled the space between us, and I was the first to dispel it.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you, what do you do for work?”
“I work for a big life insurance firm.” She sat back and folded her arms.
“What’s the nature of that line of work like?”
She took a sip of her drink and took her time doing so. From over the rim of her glass she looked me in the eyes. With a shrug, she said “It’s nothing too special. I don’t mind it.”
I flashed a half-smile and took a sip of my own drink. I pressed: “Well that’s good, to not have any complaints. It’s important to enjoy the work you occupy your time with.”
“I don’t know if I enjoy it, per se. I don’t mind it, is all. I mean, I don’t mind it.” She shook her head quickly, as if to suggest “I don’t know what more I can say.”
I downed the rest of my drink and looked around the bar. More rightly, I looked at nothing in particular off into the distance, away from our table.
The hum of the bar died down a bit, and over it I could hear the music. A Miles Davis album, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud was playing. A soundtrack to the film of the same name.
“An absolute classic,” I said, still staring off.
“What?” Mika replied.
“Do you know this song? It’s called “Générique.”
Immediately, without giving her ears a chance, Mika said “No, I don’t know it.”
“A real forbidding piece, as though anticipating a mysterious yet gloomy demise. It’s a beautiful tune, though. One of my favorites.”
Mika looked off into her own section of the bar.
I continued, "Davis was commissioned to compose this album for a film, and supposedly, he and his band were invited into the hotel room of the director. He and the quartet came with nothing prepared, but once the plot of the film was described to them, they improvised the whole record right then and there, with the movie playing soundless in the background for them to improvise over. I mean, what talent.”
“Hmm,” she mumbled. “What does générique mean?”
“Generic,” I replied.
“You don’t say. Generic as in over-the-counter or generic like boring?”
“You know, I’m not quite sure.”
Another bout of silence, and then the sound of record static filled the room. Must’ve been a 7-inch and not the whole album.
“What kind of music do you like?” I asked, pulling myself away from the distant chatter beyond our table and back into the space of our conversation.
Mika took another sip of her drink. “I listen to classical music, mostly.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. “So like Bach and Mozart and the like?”
Mika flashed a quizzical look. “I’m not sure what the songs are called. I don’t pay them any mind. I just listen to the music and don’t really pay attention to the titles.
The static from the restaurant’s turntable filled the silence once more. I spoke up: “Someone really ought to put another record on.” I said it in the same way one might suggest cracking a window, fanning oneself in the stuffy summer heat.
“I like the quiet.” She said. “The music was a little too exciting for me.”
I finished off my drink. “Do you want another,” I asked? Noticing she was just about empty herself.
Mika yawned. “I hate to do this, but I didn’t get much sleep last night. Would you mind terribly if we got the check and rescheduled for a better time? Perhaps when I’m livelier and feeling myself?”
As I walked home, I decided that perhaps Mika wasn’t the girl for me. We’ve all had bad first dates, sure, but sometimes you can just tell a second date isn’t in the cards. I was mostly just disappointed that there was so much potential for us, and now it wouldn’t amount to anything. If I had to compare the feeling to something more illustrative, the whole entanglement felt not unlike a shipbuilder who erects a giant sail for his dingy, only to feel deflated once he discovers there is no wind to fill it.
As I entered my apartment and hung up my keys on their hook, the phone began to ring. I checked my watch, perplexed as to who could be calling me this late. Nevertheless, I picked it up.
“I’m not calling you to late, am I? You can tell me right away if it’s too late to be calling you.” It was Mika.
I told her it wasn’t too late at all, I was just surprised to be getting a call from her, given the circumstances. We spoke for two hours straight. If the whimsical essence of pillow talk could be distilled and rebranded for the sake of phone conversations, this was it. Thus began the cycle.
But now, on date five—or was it six?—at about the same time that the bartender (slash host slash sushi chef) returned with my drink, Mika arrived through the door. She scanned the empty room, frowned, and lit up when she spotted me and the owner making pleasantries. She hurried over, as though she’d been waiting all day to tell me something.
The host bowed between us, as Mika was shuffling into the booth. “A drink for the lady?”
“I’ll take a water for now,” she said, only slightly out of breath.
“Very good.” He walked gingerly back to behind his counter and grabbed a pitcher of ice water.
“Howdy,” I said. I reserve “Howdy” for when I am truly excited, like a top shelf brandy that only comes out on special occasions.
“How do you do?” She replied. If words could come in the form of curtsies, this is how they would.
“I hope you don’t mind I ordered a drink.”
“Not at all.” She didn’t bother to look a what I was drinking. Instead, she focused her attention on the inside of her purse, which she rummaged through frenetically.
At a loss for words, if only momentarily, I took in her frame; studied it, scrutinized it to its core. Mika was wearing a light blue coat. Rather, it was wearing her. The sleeves remained unoccupied—It seemed that she had thrown it on with haste, and that she had tossed it over her shoulders as a canopy to shield from the rain as she rushed to the restaurant. The only thing wrong with that, however, was that it hadn’t been raining at all. Her long black hair was magnificent, not a stray lock in sight. Two deep green eyes, wide and unassuming. Larger-than-typical ears, studded each with hoop earrings. A button nose, always blushed as though still acclimating from the previous winter. And finally, a mouth that was stuck in a peaceable smile. Beyond those lips, the creme de la creme, a honeyed voice that could put the Sirens to shame.
“I’m not late, am I?” She peered up from out of her bag, giving up on whatever quest she had within it.
“Not at all. I was five minutes early, in fact.”
She smiled, and took a sip of her water, not having noticed where it came from. “So, what’s new?”
“Nothing much. Funnily enough, I actually came across an article in a magazine about Rotterdam. Apparently, a good chunk of the population is single. No wives or husbands to speak of.”
Mika took another sip of her water and furrowed her brow. “Hm? Why were you doing research on Rotterdam? Planning a trip?”
I demurred. “No…well, not exactly. I guess I just was inspired by—”
The host returned to our table once more and asked if we were ready to order. I ordered a miso soup, 3 pieces of yellow tail nigiri, and 3 pieces of toro nigiri.
“And for you?” He turned to Mika, pen at the ready to capture her order.
For her part, Mika paid him no mind and looked squarely at me. She said: “What do you hate? I don’t feel like sharing.”
I guffawed nervously. “Well…” I looked down at the menu I’d yet to return to the host. “I’ve never been much a fan of California rolls.”
Mika ordered a California roll and a house salad. The host bowed approvingly and took our menus.
“How was your day?” I asked.
Mika had moved back into her purse, swirling its contents around in search of something crucial, by the looks of it. What exactly she was determined to find, I cannot say. I didn’t feel like asking either. She looked up from her purse. “Come again?”
“I said, how was your day?” I repeated.
“Oh. Nothing too special. It was okay. Just a lot of errands to run, that’s all.” Mika took a sip of her water to signal that was all she had to say on the matter.
I could have asked her what book she decided to start reading, or how her mission to the pet store for cat food went, but I thought better of it. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t get much in the way of thoughtful answer, so I just let it be, and invited the awkward silence that followed join us at our table. The whisky had begun to take its effect, and as it made its way through my system, I determined that it would work its magic one way or another by injecting some life into this conversation or, at the very least, it would numb some of the boredom. I felt stuck, the same way a typewriter that’s showing its age might become—frozen, mid-thought, the trained hand of a patient writer the only savior for a conversation that’s lost its momentum. A distinctive ether covered the space between us and sat like a stuffy tablecloth. The kind that sits folded in a dark closet and collects dust 364 days out of the year, brought out and set uniquely for Thanksgiving dinner. One that lays inertly throughout the meal, resigned begrudgingly to hold the weight of silverware and terse conversation like it’s being asked the world of you.
I took a sip of my highball. I relished the taste and savored its flavor, hoping perhaps that I might find something interesting to mention about it to Mika. But I found nothing remarkable about it, and swallowed. The restaurant owner returned with our plates of sushi, and Mika’s bowl of salad. He placed each dish gingerly in front of us and delicately spun each item so they lay perfectly parallel to one another.
“Direction is everything,” he whispered, and I couldn’t tell if it was to himself or for both Mika and me to hear. Without another word, he spun around and returned behind his counter and began to dry some glassware. A sudden chill filled the air. I turned around in search of a draft, but there were no windows or door left open.
Before picking up a piece of sushi, I looked at Mika and said: “Do you think this is going well?”
Mika finished a small bite of her California roll and furrowed her brows. “Do I think what is going well?”
“This. The two of us. Right now and beyond. Do you think we get on well enough for this to continue?”
She appeared surprised by the question, but did not respond at first. Instead, she took the remaining bite of her roll in one hand, studied it, and placed it back down onto her plate, in a pool of soy sauce.
“Why would you ask me that?” She finally said.
“I think it’s an honest enough question. I’m curious to know what you think.”
“You’re only asking because you don’t think it’s going well enough to continue, so why not just say that? Why not just say what you’re feeling instead of making me say it?”
I finished my highball and as soon as I did, I caught the restaurant owner glance over at me from a nearby table he was wiping down. He hustled over to the bar and began crafting another one.
“Truthfully,” I began, “I just don’t feel a strong connection with you in person.” I hung onto in person a little longer than I meant to, but she didn’t catch on.
She fished the piece of half-eaten sushi from the pool of soy sauce with her chopsticks and transferred it to the dry side of her plate. She picked at the individual section of avocado and removed it from the shell as judiciously as a child might excise the Broken Heart piece from a game of Operation. I expected a loud beep to sound, but it didn’t.
“If that’s how you feel, I appreciate you being up front with me. Personally, I was having a good time, but maybe it was all in my imagination.” She looked up at me and calmly lay her chopsticks down on top of her napkin. Mika began again: “I know we’ve been seeing each other for only a short while, but I had high hopes about where things were headed. But perhaps I got swept up in the wind—carried away by some misunderstanding. Even a tumbleweed, with all its empty space, can be brushed up by the wind, after all.”
I firmed up in my seat. I pictured the rag-doll motion of the tumbleweed being coaxed calmly by the breeze. I imagined its empty space being filled with gusts of air.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Which part?” She said.
“Well the part about the tumbleweed.”
Mika took a deep breath and looked down at her lap. She spoke without looking back up at me. “I let myself get swayed easily, I suppose. I let in certain words or ideas that push me in certain directions. For instance, I let your words and actions lead me to believe we were going somewhere, when really you were just passing through.”
“So are you the tumbleweed, then?”
“You could say that, yes.”
“And in this sense, I’m the wind.”
“That’s about the weight of it, yes.”
I took a moment for myself, and considered this metaphor carefully. I was happy, first of all, to be having a real conversation with Mika. After that thought faded, I began to consider her words. You were just passing through. I repeated this refrain in my head. Just then, the chef came over with my drink.
He placed it in front of me and said “All full?” Neither of us had really touched our food. Mika smiled, in a terribly sad kind of way.
“We’re just savoring it all,” I said with a short chuckle.
The owner smiled, put his hands behind his back, and walked toward the bar yet again.
Mika spoke up once more. “I suppose there isn’t much more to say. I wish you the best on your trip. Or wherever it is you end up.”
Before I could respond, she promptly collected her purse and exited the restaurant. I didn’t run after her. I didn’t move from my seat at all. Instead, I took a heady sigh and finished off my drink before gesturing to the only other person left in the restaurant that I’d like very much to grab the check. Silence filled the room. The kind of silence that comes after a windstorm or an abruptly ended phone call. I half expected to hear a dial tone if I waited for much longer. A chill returned to me. The host-turned-bartender-turned-waiter-turned-witness came over with the receipt and I paid him in cash, leaving a generous tip.
“Please do come back again soon,” he said. “Perhaps your next friend will like the food better.”
I laughed at the thought and looked over at where Mika had sat across from me, her dismembered California roll sitting next to a grainy pool of soy sauce.
Mika had weaved into—and out of—my life as expediently as a late summer rain. The kind that erupts from a bluebird sky and bows out like an Irish Goodbye, surreptitiously and without warning. A puddle of black soy sauce upon the table, like droplets of water on warm pavement, was the only evidence she had even existed at all.
Any other person in the same situation might take a series of bad dates as a sign. A sign that, perhaps, these two people weren’t meant to be. Don’t misunderstand me—I would normally take that sign, clear as day, and heed its lesson considerably if not for the fulfilling phone calls that lay sandwiched and bookended between each previous lackluster outing. Some people return from a bad date and wash away the bad taste with a glass of whisky. Others chalk it up to another blip on the radar and move onto the next person that piques their interest. Myself, I had made the habit of returning home and leaving a message on Mika’s voicemail, and sometimes I would return home to find she had already left one for me. We would tell each other that we had a lovely time and that we should give each other a call when we can, which we invariably would. And when we did, we’d talk for a good chunk of time and schedule another date.
What it was about speaking face-to-face that made our conversations much less enchanting, I can’t say for sure. Perhaps even after months of seeing each other we were both still the slightest bit timid, neither of us wanting to completely let our guards down, whereas the distance through the phone lines provided a perfect safeguard. Maybe the phone was the necessary bulwark that could shield our relationship from any unwanted awkward pause, badly timed joke, or any other crucial pressure point that could only be alleviated by distance and the imagination. Indeed, speaking in person required our full attention and eye contact, and left little to chance, which could be a saving grace for any vocal misstep.
Maybe like the tumbleweed, Mika was truly just going with the flow, and perhaps—like the tumbleweed—wind blowing from multiple directions put her in a rut, unable to roll freely and with ease. It was possible that in a vacuum—such as the static, steady environment of the telephone—Mika felt well-equipped to be herself and speak her mind. But once other forces of nature got involved, it became overwhelming. It was all terribly confusing, but I had nowhere really to turn for answers. Despite the blow our relationship had been dealt, I wondered if I could still call Mika up, to be greeted like a long lost friend with whom I could shoot the breeze, instead of a stubborn former romantic interest. After all, it was only in person that our time together had come to a close—the woman over the phone might have a completely different point of view.