Written and Posted in Hong Kong
I met Katy when she was an 18-year-old freshman in college. She lived in E Tower in Morewood Gardens and I was an RA just a few floors up from her floor. To say that I met her that year is sort of not true, because I didn't meet her so much as I heard about her. She was a co-RA's favorite resident, and she became a sort of model-resident in our weekly RA meetings. Whenever anyone would do something really stupid, like that time my resident accidentally lit a cardboard box on fire in her room, one of us would turn to the other and say, "Katy wouldn't do that." She wouldn't.
The first thing I noticed about Katy when I DID actually meet her the following year was that she had the shiniest, straightest, brownest hair of anyone I'd ever met. I also noticed that her eyes got really wide just before she was about to burst out laughing, and that there was a piece of construction paper tacked to the wall near her desk with what seemed like hundreds of fortune-cookie fortunes tacked to it, the words "IN BED!" scrawled on the construction paper.
For many years, Katy remained something of an enigma to me. She's not the easiest person for me to read because we're different in so many ways. But there are times when Katy has balanced me out, been different than me in the way that I need a good friend to be different than me. And she has always, always, always loved Matt, and the quiet and calm part of her that completely and totally understands him is the quiet and calm part of her that I get, that isn't even a little bit enigmatic to me.
In the past two years, Katy did something that very few people do: she followed a dream and went back to school. She gave up a big apartment, a good-paying job she didn't really enjoy, and a city she'd called home for five years, and moved to Rhode Island to go to art school. If you don't think this is brave, then you should see the pictures of her studio, because she practically lives there. I've known Katy for about 10 years now, and I'd venture to guess that on an average day, she doesn't see herself as an inspiration to others. But for her 29th birthday, I'd like her to know that I think she's braver than she gives herself credit for, that I think she is an incredibly talented artist, and that I'm okay with not always being able to read her because I feel really lucky to have her in my life.