The Best Gift of the Summer

21 Sep

Day 11 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

I knew this night was coming.

I tried to fight it off, tried to tell myself that it wouldn’t be that hard. I figured if I could say goodbye to the cast of “Chicago,” my boyfriend of two years, and my entire college life in one night, I could certainly say goodbye to these two morons and not be too damaged about it.

When I first started my summer here, I was afraid. I was scared of having no one. I was afraid the people in my cast wouldn’t “get me” due to my obscure, off-the-wall sense of humor, my obsession with carbohydrates, and my need to sometimes be left alone in a quiet corner with only my journal.

And then Dallas and DJ walk in. I see tall, dark Dallas and think “Please let him be straight!” Then he sticks a perfect triple pirouette and and says quietly to himself, “I’ve still got it, bitches!” when he doesn’t think anyone is listening aaand I give up on that hope. I wave at them and introduce myself. Dallas gives me the biggest smile in the whole world, and DJ politely does his adorable little DJ grin and half-wave.

We start rehearsals, tentatively singing our separate parts in fear of being judged, while secretly trying to hear everyone else’s voices in order to assess their talent. Dallas and DJ listen to me sing the big note at the end of “God Bless America.” Dallas says, “Gorge!” and DJ says, “YEAASSS.” I like them immediately. Later, while we’re taking a five minute water break, Dallas and I are by the lockers. I forget what awkward thing was said, but I did the “Brrrr” awkward moment sound effect, and Dallas burst out laughing.

“Deeje!” He called, “She just did the ‘brrr’ noise! She does it too! Oh, I’m gonna like you. I can tell.”

It was pretty much history from there.

I spent mostly every single night of this summer with them. I found we had the most fun when we did nothing at all. We watched ALL of the movies. We snuggled in bed and argued over who had to be big spoon. We figured out ways for the three of us to sit comfortably on a two person couch. We went to downtown Cincinnati together. We went to an adult novelty store together on the fourth of July. …I don’t know why we did that…

Slowly, our personal space boundaries grew to be non existent. I found myself being able to jokingly touch Dallas anywhere without it being weird or awkward. DJ and I discovered we both have an innate need to snuggle at least twice every three days. Walking into a room where one of them already was just felt good. It was like I could let out my breath when I saw one of them sitting on those disgusting, sweat-infested suicide-suede couches in the humid smelly armpit that was the Festhaus greenroom.

We taught each other things. I taught them how to cook Cajun vodka pasta. The two of them together continuously showed me how little I actually know about musical theatre. (Brrr…) Dallas taught me to stop thinking so much. He taught me how to let go and let my heart make a decision once in a while. I taught DJ that it’s okay, and even necessary, to be sad sometimes. DJ taught me that no matter how bad it gets, you can always keep going. You can be stronger than you ever thought you were. DJ and I taught Dallas how to listen to that little voice inside of his head, and to always be true to himself, even if that means making hard decisions. They taught me that nothing is planned, especially within relationships, and sometimes you just need to dive in. They encouraged me and listened to me, rooted for me, coached me, cried with me, snuggled with me, laughed with me, drank with me, slept in awkward positions with me, (and in Dallas’ case) showered with me. They plucked their eyebrows with me, yelled at me, told me when I was being stupid and over thinking everything, kissed me when I needed kissing, hugged me when I needed hugging, and left me alone when they knew I needed my space.

I’ve learned so much about myself simply by knowing the two of them. The whole summer, we’ve said that I am a complete mixture of the two of them. I’m mature for my age, like DJ. Like him, I tend to over-think everything, and rarely do I find myself diving into love with reckless abandon, like Dallas does. Yet at the same time, I’m so much like Dallas. Our crude sense of humor, our crazy violent outbursts, and our very deep need for emotional connection with those around us. Where DJ and I are tentative, once I get into a relationship, I am very much a Dallas. I’m passionate and wild with my feelings, never apologetic, and I love big or go home.

I’ve had an amazing summer, and I’ve been “#soblessed” to have been in the shows that I was in. I’ve been in and out of relationships, cried heaving sobs and laughed belly-cramping laughs, gone on road trips to cities I’ve never seen, reconnected with old friends, and learned (once again!) to never judge a book by its cover. And yet-

Having the two of them near me, to listen to my life problems and give me advice, to be there for me at a time when I felt like everything I knew was over and gone… That was the best gift I was given this summer.

It’s rare in life that you find people like them… People who are so open to who you are in that exact moment, whatever that means. They never judged me for anything I was feeling. Instead, they listened with open hearts and open minds and were always honest with me, even when I didn’t want to hear it. They forced me to get out of my head and encouraged me to take a chance on a relationship that proved to be just what I needed. And when I suddenly realized that I needed the chance to be alone for a while, they didn’t judge me or say I was making a mistake. They supported me.

And then… just when they had taught me to follow my heart once in a while and let go, they came through once again, and talked me out of making a decision that would have caused WAY more heartache than happiness. Just when I thought they had taught me everything they could, they showed me that sometimes, your heart should ache. And by denying that yearning heartache of the person it craves, a sense of strength and clarity can also arise from a place you didn’t even know you possessed.

It’s amazing to find a friend who knows you better than you do. What’s even more incredible is when you find two of them in one unforgettable summer.

And so, this blog post is for them. For the two incredible, inspiring, kindest, make-any-bad-day-better people I know. And as I sit in their apartment for the last time, Oxford curled by my feet for the last time, I see the summer I spent with them flash before my eyes…

I see us laughing on stage together.
I see Dallas farting on me right before rushing onstage to sing “Standing Outside The Fire.”
I see DJ and I on a picnic blanket in Eden Park, drinking lemonade and feeding sparrows out of the palms of our hands. I see them sitting at the kitchen table, playfully arguing while I silently wash their dishes with a smirk.
I hear Dallas’ big footsteps coming down the old creaky stairs.
I see the three of us sprawled out on a couch screaming expletives at each other for sharp elbows and sticky thighs.
I see Dallas getting a ticket for parking in a “non-parking space.”
I see DJ and I sitting on the platforms during the very first mic check, and I can still hear the strain in his voice, the interior war raging inside of him as he tells me why he’s not been himself lately.
I see the hurt in Dallas’ eyes when I tell him why I’ve been distant with him, and in that moment, I realize I was wrong.
I see us go from “Hey… do you mind if I have one of those…?” to dirty hands racing across cafeteria tables to fight to the death for the last fry.
I see the three of us rolling our eyes at the security guards.
I feel the sun on our shoulders as we lay by the wave pool.
I see Dallas glaring at my antique jewelry saying, “That has bad juju. I don’t like it. Get that shit away from me.”
I see DJ’s apprehensive first sip as he drinks his first glass of wine.
I feel Dallas’ wet hand grasping mine as we go down a giant water slide, with me dressed in a banana suit.
I hear the beat of the bass vibrating in my ribs while we watch a tragic drag queen croon Wake Me Up  by “Evanescence.”
I hear myself say through tears, “But I love him!” and Dallas answer, “If that’s how you feel, then go be with him!”
I see DJ petting a purring Oxford, and Dallas’ jade face glaring from the table.
I smell the Oreo truffles and the rotting rotisserie chicken.
I hear us burst out laughing, all three at the same time.
I see us hugging, and hesitating before letting go.
I feel them.

Even now, while they sleep in a separate room, drunk from the excitement of a new love that only took the entire summer for them to discover, I feel them.

They are the brothers I never had.

They are the open ears.

They are the look from across a room that can send me into a fit of laughter with the simple raise of a perfectly-plucked brow.

I’m pointing at Dallas.

They are my protectors.

They are my secret keepers.

Simply put, they are my friends.

And I love them.

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2 Responses to “The Best Gift of the Summer”

  1. Debbie Plunkett September 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Hi Carolyn,
    Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavors! I am sure you will be successful in everything you go after. I wasn’t sure what to do tonight. Dinner out, movies….
    one thing I did not expect to do was sit in my living room and cry. Happy tears! You are an incredible writer, performer, friend, cook… oh yah and gorgeous!

    I am glad the three of you found each other this summer. I remember checking in with DJ after he started at Kings Island. He said he met a girl named Carolyn. She is a very talented, funny, beautiful girl that he hopes to get to know better. I’m so very glad he got to know you better. From meeting you over the summer and reading your blogs, I must say my son hit the nail on the head.

    Thank you for being there for DJ. I wish there you more Carolyns in the world! DJ sent me a text today saying, it was a sad day saying good bye to you. As I say often, “Don’t be sad it ended, be happy it happened.” I miss DJ rolling his eyes around his head when I say shit like that! Bahahahahahahahaha

    Deb
    ps If you are ever in the Boston area, there is a guest room for you at 84 Bow Ridge Road, I will make sure you are comfortable, happy and fed. I just won’t spoon with you. sorry … hot flashes 🙂 Safe travels!

  2. Rio Van February 16, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    This is beautiful Carolyn. Absolutely beautiful. The way you paint DJ and Dallas takes me back to last summer, and how much I loved your cast and sharing a green room with you! Love you lady always. And I’ll never look at a dinosaur again without first thinking of you (:

    All the best,
    Rio Van Risseghem

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