The Latest Chapter

My ex-girlfriend Sontaya and I have a convoluted history that goes back over seven years, although we were only serious for the first two months. Since the long-ago breakup, there have been sporadic attempts to at least be friends, but these never worked out. The problem, if that is the right word, has always been about behavior: Sontaya is at heart a decent person, but does things I simply do not agree with. To further complicate the picture, there have been times when she has genuinely needed help, such as her father’s mental breakdown.

To try and handle this while avoiding another rupture, around three years ago I began communicating only through emails and text messages, helping out when I thought it appropriate while keeping my distance. No face to face meetings unless the circumstances demanded it. And when I needed extended time off, I would block all communication for a few months — or longer. This puzzled and hurt Sontaya (who nevertheless exhibited an almost eerie patience waiting to hear from me again), but it was important that I be fair to myself as well as her.

I guess I should not have been surprised when I ran into Sontaya in mid February. We were overdue for another go-round. She had begun working at one of the cluster of bars on Soi 6, a few blocks down the street from where I live and always walk by whenever I go out. After almost a year, it was admittedly nice to see her and catch up, but I could not help wishing she’d ended up at a place further away.

Because there was no easy way of sneaking past Sontaya’s bar, I began keeping an eye out for her and saying hello whenever I passed by. Not an onerous task, really. She’s nice-looking and very pleasant to talk to; it’s only after we are together for more than two weeks that things seem go sour.

Covid-19 may end up nudging us out of our rut. Because Sontaya has problems with her lungs, contracting the virus might be the end for her. So, at my suggestion, she quit her job (the bars closed soon afterwards anyway) and has been staying at home while I provide support. This has brought us back together, electronically speaking, and we’ve already had our first major disagreement, right on schedule. But unlike before, we seem to have worked our way through it. Sontaya has backed off trying to manipulate more money out of me (improvements for her parents’ house), while I have resisted the urge to throw in the towel. Maybe we are both coming to realize the importance of having a friend right now.

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