After several attempts to get together again, we finally met up in June in Redondo Beach and then drove to a sushi restaurant in Hermosa Beach. That night, he stressed, more than usual, how great a friend I had been to him and thanked me for it. That night he kissed me, and it was better than I'd imagined. We spent the night together.
For the first time in 5 1/2 years, I felt liberated.
I was violated when I was 23, and it changed everything.
Before then, I had planned on waiting until after my wedding. I'm Muslim, and Muslim girls aren't supposed to have sex before getting married.
Before then, I knew where I stood and liked knowing that, in many circles, I was the only girl who chose to abstain. Since I lost that choice when I was raped, I had been hoping to rewrite what had happened as best as I could.
I thought I did that, with my friend. Until the next morning.
He was cold. The last kiss didn't seem the same. And for the first time, he didn't walk me to my car. I walked alone. And, aside from curt text-message responses, he never contacted me after our night together.
For several months afterward, I attempted to normalize things between us. He was my friend, after all. At one point, he told me he was getting back with his ex. It shocked me, but I wanted happiness for him.
I also needed this story to end well for me. That didn't mean he had to date me or love me. I just wanted a conversation and a chance to look back months from now, years from now or even ages from now and smile when I remembered him.
I did everything in my power and more to get him to understand how much I needed this. But he would not understand. He just disappeared. And now, I'm left to agonize, constantly wondering why it all had to end this way.
Mona Shadia is a reporter for Times Community News in Orange County. She also writes a weekly column, "Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C."
L.A. Affairs is a column that chronicles dating, romance and relationships in the Los Angeles area. If you have a story to tell, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.