Tag Archives: memory lane

The Most Jellicle, The Most Live

25 May

When we were young, my sister and I took many lessons of varying activities. I, being the animal lover, went through a horseback riding phase that I admittedly have not completely grown out of. Caitlyn, being a fairy tale princess, took ballet from the moment she could stand in first position. I eventually started to take dance lessons, too, as well as gymnastics, cheerleading, and a sad, pathetic fifth grade attempt at playing basketball.  (I scored four glorious points the entire season- two foul shots, and one basket that I think went into the basket because the ball bounced off of my flailing arm, and my teammates were nice enough to allow me the credit of making said basket.)

When we were about 13 and 15, my sister and I were taking dance lessons at a local dance studio. Now, when I say “taking dance lessons at a local dance studio,” what I mean to say is that sometimes on random Saturdays we would show up to the dance studio and learn sporadic 8 counts of choreography, and not return for a few weeks due to our busy schedules. The problem was, if you wanted to take dance classes with this studio, you had to keep your entire Saturday open. We were enrolled in jazz, lyrical, ballet, pointe, and tap. Five hours of straight dance with hour breaks here and there. If anything else conflicted- family reunions, gymnastics meets, cheerleading competitions, community productions of The Music Man, having a social life- you’d miss all of your classes for that week. It wasn’t like “Oh I can’t make it to jazz on Satruday, but at least I’ll make it to ballet on Monday!” No. If you missed one class, you usually missed them all.

Here’s the thing: I’m not saying that missing class was the right thing to do. It was actually the complete wrong thing to do. Now that I’m older, I can only imagine my instructor’s frustration while trying to choreograph 50+ teenage girls into some sort of physical product that didn’t resemble a chaotic frenzy of developing breasts, hips, and acne. ESPECIALLY when those 50+ girls had other activities to attend, and couldn’t even show up to class. She had made it easy for us- ONE day of the week you get to attend ALL of your classes, and be done with it for the rest of the week. How hard can that be, huh? To just make sure your schedule is clear for ONE day of the week? I mean seriously. How can you choreograph and teach people dances if they’re not in the room? You can’t. AND! Now that I’m older, I realize that my instructor was not only in charge of our dance educations, but she was ALSO in charge of putting on the end of the year recital, in which all of her hard work would be showcased on a stage for all of the people PAYING her to do the impossible task of teaching their absent children how to dance.

So I assume my instructor finally got so fed up with the whole ordeal that she finally just said “Forget you little whores. This year we’re doing it my way.” And at the beginning of that year, the infamous year, she made an announcement:

“Listen. If you’re in class, you’ll be in the recital. If you’re not in class, you won’t be. Each week, whatever we learn- if you’re here to learn it, you’ll perform those 8 counts in the recital. If you’re not here, you won’t be in the 8 counts we learned. If you happen to miss a week where we learn a BIG section of the dance, or if we manage to learn ALL of the dance, you simply won’t be on stage for it. This is how we’re doing it this year.” She then took a big swig from her water bottle. Looking back now, her water bottles were never clear. She always had a plastic jug that she brought from home. I now wonder what she was drinking…Well played, Miss Dance Instructor. Well played.

Well, this sent a shock through us all. She couldn’t do that! Could she? Would this mean that we wouldn’t be able to miss a SINGLE DANCE CLASS if we wanted to be in the whole dance at the end of the year?!?!

Being a virgo, someone who is a naturally organized person, I found my 13 year old self wondering… “So, wait… say someone misses a class. But they were here the week before that class, and the week after… does that mean they’re just going to have to RUN off of the stage while the rest of the group does the part that they missed… and then run BACK on as soon as they know the choreography again? That doesn’t seem very organized…”

And yes. Yes, that is exactly what that meant, and no, it was not organized. At all.

It also didn’t help that this year was the year that my sister and I would be missing the most dance classes of our entire lives. I don’t really remember why we were missing so much class… it really doesn’t matter for the story’s sake… the point is, we missed a shit ton of class. When we would finally show up to early morning Saturday dance, our friends would greet us like we were their long-lost family members from ancient times.

Prepubescent Girl: OH MY GOSH CAITLYN AND CAROLYN ARE HERE!
Senior In High School: WOW! WE HAVEN’T SEEN YOU GUYS IN MONTHS!
Prepubescent Girl: Do you still take class here? Or are you just visiting?
Other Girls: Wow! Your hair got longer! It’s good to see you! Carolyn, you got taller since the last time I saw you! Etc…

I can only imagine my instructor’s frustration when we finally DID show up for class. Now she had two extra bodies to put into this mess, and those two bodies knew none of the dance at all.

Every year, in community dance studios around the nation, small recitals are put on. Each year, these recitals usually have “themes.” Such as, “God Bless America”; “Five, Six, Seven, GREAT!” ; “Over the Rainbow”; and “STARPOWER.” This year, the infamous year of the changing eights, our theme was THE STARS OF BROADWAY. Each dance was choreographed to old Broadway hits, or songs that talked a lot about New York City. I vaguely remember the “advanced adult tap class” kick ball changing their way through Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” I also remember a beautiful lyrical solo done by a girl in a flowwy white costume to Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind.”

The one day that we came to class, we learned that our “advanced jazz class” was opening the entire recital with a tribute to one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, “CATS!” While we joined the group and started to learn the choreography, I started to realize something…

Caitlyn and I would be portraying cats. We would actually embody animals on stage, and people would be watching us, and no one would call us weird or “too old to be acting like an animal.”  I felt like my entire life had been leading me up to this moment. Years of making “nests” behind the couch and filling them with my beanie babies… crawling around on the floor like a psychotic lunatic while carrying aforementioned beanie babies in my mouth… watching The Animal Planet and perfecting my cougar call… all of these activities had led me to this SPECIFIC moment. I WAS a cat. I was a feline, and I was fabulous.

Needless to say, my freak show little self was extremely excited. Caitlyn, on the other hand, was more worried about her costume than the actual portrayal of a believable cat. You see, sometimes in these things, parents and their “talented” offspring are forced to order, buy, and sometimes even MAKE their own costumes. This time was no different. We were told we would need to order body suits and decorate them however we saw fit. During one Saturday, before anyone ordered their body suits, we were forced to write our names down under the colors that we wished to be. This was done in hopes of avoiding 27 black cats and only 3 yellow cats on stage.

I approached the list… I knew what color I wanted to be… I was hoping that there wouldn’t be too many names under that color already… but because I had missed so much class, I knew I wouldn’t be first to write my name down on the paper. My more punctual peers certainly wouldn’t let me have first cat color choice privileges. I had to wait my turn…. patiently…

With every girl that approached the list and wrote her name down, I knew I would have to settle for something STUPID like… brown. Or gray. I kept my fingers crossed, and prayed that there would be at least one space left for my name…

When I finally did get to see the list, these were the options I saw:
ORANGE:        BLACK:       GRAY:             YELLOW:       BROWN:

 

What. No, seriously… what!?

No where, not anywhere, was the “Siamese” option. Who were these people? What the hell were they thinking? You can’t have a production of CATS without proper cat colors!

I was so disappointed, I didn’t even care where my name went anymore. I saw that there weren’t many orange cats, so I scribbled my name down and went back to my place on the floor.

A month later, we received a package in the mail. At this point, I think all three of us- my mother, my sister, and I- had forgotten that we had ordered anything. When we finally opened the package and looked inside, my mom pulled out a brown body suit and an orange body suit.

Mom: Oh. Here are your cat costumes, girls.
Caitlyn: Oh yeah! We’re doing CATS. I almost forgot.
Me: (Holding up the limp carcass of my orange body suit) This is the literally the color of a construction cone.

My mom promised that she would help me make my costume not look as crazy-orange as it already did. We went to the craft store and bought a few boas for our tails, and, upon my instruction, grabbed a package of black feathers and some glue.

Mom: Carolyn, we should really just use paint to give you stripes.
Me: Paint is going to look two dimensional! I want the stripes to look like FUR. Okay!? That’s why we’re going to glue feathers onto me.
Mom: But honey, if you put glue on a costume that is supposed to stretch-
Me: I WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE FUR FROM OFF STAGE. If I can’t even be a Siamese cat, at least I can look like like I have fur!
Mom: Okay. Whatever.

That night I slaved over my costume, gluing feathers in all the right places to make me look like an orange tabby cat. It took hours of painstakingly accurate applications, but once it was completed, I was satisfied. Everyone else would be using markers for their costumes. Not me! Oh no. I was going to be different.

Finally the night of the recital arrived. Caitlyn and I rushed into the backstage area and started to get ready. The “costumers” (AKA a few selfless and good hearted parent volunteers) had printed out templates of cat makeup from the actual Broadway show that they were letting us go through and choose. Caitlyn and I chose our makeup maps, and proceeded to apply our feline faces.

I looked at my sister. Her eyebrows were drawn in along her nose and back out under her eyes- almost like she had purposely drawn raccoon eyes on herself, but then stopped and changed her mind midway through. She had painted stripes back along her cheeks with different colored lip pencils, and colored in her entire top lip with gray eyeliner. On the left side of her face was a patch of gray makeup, a patch that to us looked like distinctive feline markings, but to anyone else would appear to be physical proof of domestic violence.

I, on the other hand, had colored my eyebrows in the opposite direction- I had made them fan up and back, bleeding back into my hairline. I colored the bottom of my nose with a black eye pencil and drew a very prominent line down my upper lip, which then connected to another colored-in black triangle below my bottom lip. Every other inch of my face was painted white like a geisha.

I looked at Caitlyn. She looked at me. We stared at each other for a moment. There was silence. And then-

Me: You look FANTASTIC.
Caitlyn: Wow. We look great!
Me: Here, let me help you with your collar.

Finally, it was time to put on our body suits. Caitlyn slid into hers like butter melts into a pan. It stretched and clung to her like an athletic body suit should. Mine, on the other hand…

Me: Uh, Caitlyn?
Caitlyn: Yeah?
Me: Mine… mine isn’t stretching.
Caitlyn: What do you mean? It’s a body suit.
Me: Well, where I used the glue to glue on the feathers?
Caitlyn: Yeah?
Me: Well… it’s not stretching. In those places.

We then proceeded to RIP my costume apart and MAKE it fit onto my body. Feathers were flying everywhere. Caitlyn was laughing, I was hyperventilating, and all the while we were hearing the stage manager (Aka another selfless parent volunteer) yell down “TEN MINUTES TILL PLACES!”

Caitlyn: There! It’s on! Just leave it!
Me: But look at the feathers! They’re falling off! COMPLETELY! I look horrible!

Now, at this moment I suspect my sister knew exactly what she was doing… she then says to me…

Caitlyn: Well… we’re supposed to be ally cats, right?
Me: Yeah…
Caitlyn: Well you’ll just look a little more, forlorn.
Me: Huh?!
Caitlyn: Like… LIKE you’re one of those really aggressive cats that doesn’t take any crap from any other cats!
Me: But… that’s not the type of cat I rehearsed! I rehearsed being a very friendly cat, who actually gets along well with other cats, as long as the other cats aren’t trying to mate with me or steal my territory!
Caitlyn: Well… maybe you can just be a different type of cat. Come on, we have to get into places.

And while we climbed the steps to emerge onto the stage and start the preshow section, I was trying desperately to think about how I could possibly change my cat character to justify my haggard appearance. Could my docile original cat character have just gotten into a fight… and lost? NO! My cat character would NEVER lose a fight… Could I have mange? NO! My cat character cleans herself daily! No matter which way I looked at it, it was unavoidable. I was going to have to become… AN AGGRESSIVE CAT.

The lights came up. The music started. I did my usual lick the paw and pat my ear choreography that I had planned, but now I felt stupid- I was in my head, second-guessing everything I was doing…

Angry Me: Now come on. What kind of a cat tries to clean themselves NOW?
Nervous Me: I can’t help it! My costume fell apart!
Angry Me: A LITTLE LATE FOR THAT YOU MANGY BEAST!

I stretched my arms out in a child’s pose and arched my back.

Angry Me: OH so we just woke up from a nap now, huh!? IS THE KITTY CAT TIRED!?!?!
Nervous Me: I’m just doing the choreography… the way we rehearsed…
Angry Me: Your stretching is CRAP. This entire production is CRAP, so long as YOU’RE in it! Do you even KNOW the dance?!?!

And I think it was at that moment that I realized… I really didn’t know any of the dance. I mean I knew where I was supposed to be on the stage. I knew, vaguely, where I was supposed to enter and exit. But other than that? I was screwed. I realized, in that heightened moment of self loathing and hyperventilation, that I had been relying solely on the mirrors in our studio to watch and follow the other girls. And now that we were actually on the stage without any mirrors, I literally had no idea which 8 count came where, and where I was supposed to be.

It was every performer’s nightmare. Being onstage with a costume that is falling apart, only to realize you don’t know your part. I quickly looked over at Caitlyn. Surprisingly, she was already looking right back at me. And get this- she had the EXACT same, petrified, “Oh-My-Gosh-I-Literally-Have-No-Idea-What-Comes-Next” look on her face that I did.

And I believe it was at that moment where the term “Doing it live” comes from. Most people think it’s from the internet sensation of Bill O’Riley going nuts and screaming “WE’LL DO IT LIVE” at the news crew for having a faulty teleprompter. But no. No, friends, see… “Do it live” actually started with two teenage sisters attempting to dance in a small studio’s tribute to the award winning Broadway musical “CATS.”

So there we were. On a stage. Running around, trying not to bump into anyone else, mouthing the words, but we didn’t really know the words…

Yes we’re Jellicle cats
as Jellicle, do…?
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!
I’m a cat, And I’m Jellicle too?…

Kicking! Running! Leaping! Pivoting! Pirouetting! All a half second behind everyone else on the stage. We looked like two genuine ass holes up there. At one point I even considered just jazz running off stage and staying there until the whole thing was over… Which, now that I think about it, I SHOULD have been doing during the parts that I didn’t know… I just didn’t know when to exit and when to come back on.

The only silver lining was that Caitlyn and I had been strategically placed in the back of every formation, so that even if we messed up, we’d be mostly hidden by the other girls on stage who had attended more dance classes than we.

Now this continued on for what felt like a century. But then! Lo and behold, at one point Caitlyn and I finally realized that the part of the dance happening was the ONE part that we had been in class to learn! Suddenly we weren’t following anyone because we actually knew the choreography! And let me tell you what… those four eight counts were the most on point, committed, and memorable eight counts of the entire CATS production. Why, you ask? Well, because for those four eight counts, every dancer on the stage was doing the same movements at the exact same time. I could just see our dance instructor in the audience, beaming with pride… sure, we were a little shaky to start. But we’ve got it now! WE’VE GOT THIS!

And then, just as soon as it had started, it ended- The beautiful part of the dance that we knew was now over, and we were back to square one.

Please, I heard myself pleading with God, please let this be over soon, and I swear I’ll never miss a dance class again…

Suddenly everyone in the entire company artistically collapsed down to the floor and rolled, and Caitlyn and I were left, for a split second, staring at the audience point blank. Just standing there. Two casual cats, staring blankly at the audience. We IMMEDIATELY dove down to be on the same level as the other girls… and then, something in my brain clicked, and for one more glorious second, I realized I KNEW THE CHOREOGRAPHY! I KNEW this eight count! I knew, deep in my bones, that on count EIGHT was a move where we shot our feet out in front of us, leaned back on one arm, and stretched our other arm up to display a jazz hand. It was kind of an awkward move, where you’re hitched between your hand and your heels, sort of showing your crotch to the audience… But it didn’t matter. The awkward body suit crotch move came on count eight! AND I KNEW IT!

And so, I did it. Five, six, seven…. EIGHT!

And as my crotch was displayed proudly for the entire audience to enjoy, and my arm shot up to display a perfect, triumphant jazz hand, I realized it wasn’t the only jazz hand! Caitlyn’s triumphant jazz hand shot up, too! The only problem was…

No body else’s hands shot up. Not one other crotch that wasn’t related to mine was being displayed for the audience’s enjoyment.

Later that night after the recital ended, my mother insisted that she grab a picture of Caitlyn and I in our cat costumes. And you know what? I’m glad she did. Because at the time, the LAST thing I wanted to do at the end of my recital was put my cat costume back on. But now that she has, I get to share this photograph with the rest of the world. Enjoy.

Sole Patch, the Aggressive Cat sits proudly next to Jellicle Slutter Baum.

Sole Patch, the Aggressive Cat sits proudly next to Jellicle Slutter Baum.

 

I think our little an-jellicle faces really just say it all.

 

That Winter

6 Jan

I miss the cold.

I miss the mental count of rhythmic step,    the beat
of frosted footprints

through crackling
ice
along the street.

…The sleet.

 

and Oh-

The anticipated warmth of your bed
after the slow,
silky slap of

snow.

I miss the clear drip
from my nose.

Hands in gloves,
Scarf neck hugs,
Visible breath that grows.

I would make hot
tea
And you would drink cups of black
coffee

And we’d make lunch and love
lay down and shove
your cold feet
between the sheets
and my legs-

They never stopped shivering.

 

 

You Happened

23 Oct

Day 42 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

I will never eat again.
I will never sleep again.
I will never hold your hand and wonder
what time is it again,
and think about the work I should be completing
again
instead of wasting my precious time with you
again.
And I will bravely speak to those
who swore it wouldn’t work.
Whose acidic eyes bore into us,
wondering why I was the one
who was enough-
And I will hold them close to my heart.
Because they don’t know,
and will never know,
what it was
between us
that made our oiled cogs tick
held together in a rhythm that said
“You’re enough. I’m enough.
We’re enough.”
Over and over till the clock struck won.

And I will never heal again.
And I will never hear again.
Because I know the sound of your
beating heart
and the feel of it in my palm,
slightly rising and falling
so sweet-
like a continuous drip from a frozen faucet
onto the trembling tongue of a waiting cat-
and no other sound will ever
hold my ears.
I will never fly again,
and I will never feel again.

Until one day I wake,
dry-eyed,
and suddenly realize
that I am hungry
again.
That I just slept a whole night’s rest
without haunting dreams
and a heavy chest.
I will hold my own hand
as it does the work needed
till I let someone else come
and slide into me
again.
And I will learn to forgive those
who had no faith in us,
including you, my love.
Including me.
Including us.

And as the clock strikes one
again
I will hear the sound
of a tiny heart
whispering to the blood-
“Begin!
This way…”
And I will let it lead me
and you will not heed me,
and yet-
you still will not leave me.
For my flying cells will course my veins,
and within blue tubes
one true thing remains:
You happened.
You were there.
And you always will be.
Perhaps not as much, but in different form-
A smile on my face as I sip my coffee,
remembering the snow between my breasts
wedged playfully from your
black-gloved hand.
Stars in Georgia winking down
on the sprawled landscape of girl
slowly eroding into the woman
she will one day become,
and the boy-
I’m sorry, love,
(arguably!)
the man-
who helped her evolve.
A leather jacket in a crowd,
Being lost then finding out
that getting lost
is half the fun.
And that what we lost, we also won.
Finally really realizing
real relations
are more than just temptations
in scarlet lit corners.
And strangers to the former
people we used to be,
we will grow and learn to love
everything we once called “we.”

5 Things That Will Automatically Make You Feel Better About Your Life In General

30 Sep

Day 20 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

1.) Listen to 90’s pop Pandora radio. Whether you happen upon Spice Girls, your favorite boy band, or that song about the girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world, you’re going to be reminded of a different time. A time when the internet wasn’t such a part of everyone’s every day lives. A time when people still ordered pizza by calling another human being on the phone, instead of watching a creepy time tracker loading bar fill up with ever-changing creepy stalker-ish messages like “T.J. is making your pizza/ T.J. is putting the pizza in the oven/ T.J. has hiccups but is still making your pizza with a smile/ T.J. is putting your pizza in the box/ T.J. is getting in the car/ T.J. is driving right now/ T.J. will be there any moment so get your money ready/ T.J. is there and your money isn’t ready/ T.J. is in your house/ T.J. is pissed off because your tip was less than 3 percent you cheap jerk.” (Sorry… I recently discovered online pizza ordering and it, obviously, blew my mind and simultaneously creeped me out.) But ANYWAY. You’ll be reminded of sleepovers, Pokemon trading cards, spelling tests, Nickelodeon, and playing Spyro on Saturday mornings. Boy Meets World, being on a mediocre sports team, and stretch pants with stirrups. You’ll be reminded of how it felt to just be a kid. A time when you sat in the backseat, screamed out your order, and someone always paid for your McDonald’s.

2.) Wash your hands and brush your teeth. I’m serious. This is like, the best thing to do in the middle of the day. Sure, people say they wash their hands all of the time, but do they really? One of my favorite things to do is to go into an abandoned public restroom and just wash my hands for as long as I want. It’s like a mini shower, and I always leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Brushing your teeth in the middle of the day is also like, the best thing ever, especially if your breath isn’t even bad. It’s a mouth shower at a time when you’re not used to getting one.

3.) Look at everyone in the room and give them a mental compliment. Have you ever done this? I like to do this on days when I’m losing faith in humanity. Sometimes, it’s good to take a minute and stop judging everyone and everything, including yourself. Put your mind on everyone BUT yourself, and tell yourself something nice about the other people around you. How is this going to make you feel better about YOUR life, you ask? Just do it. Trust me. The best part is, you don’t have to audibly tell them what you like about them, so you can skip something I like to call The Awkward Compliment Exchange…

Me: Hey, Suzie Soandso, I really like your hair.
Suzie Soandso: Really? Oh gosh it looks terrible today, it’s so dirty and messy. But YOUR hair looks great! And I love your shoes!
Me: (What I say) Aw well thanks!
Me: (What I WANT to say) B*tch please! I didn’t ask you for a compliment! Just take mine and move on! I LIKE YOUR HAIR OKAY!? I DON’T CARE IF IT HASN’T BEEN WASHED IN TWO DAYS, IT’S DOING THIS REALLY NICE WAVY THING AND I LIKE IT!!!

4.) Google pictures of Shiba Inu puppies.

The best part about this ^ ? They grow up into this:

Shyeah… I know.

5.) Buy something you’ve wanted for a long time. Whether that be a crispy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s or a new iPhone 5. Every once in a while, it’s nice to do something awesome for yourself.  It’s one thing to accept a gift… by accepting a gift from someone else, you’re kind of signing an invisible and silent agreement: Yes, I love it. Every time I have anything to do with it I will probably be reminded of you. This is even harder when a significant other buys you the gift you’ve wanted forever. It’s like, Yeah, thanks. I’m really happy that this is now in my possession, but… what happens when I hate your guts? Will I still be happy I have this? That’s why it is SO important to do things for yourself sometimes. That way, when you go to wear that necklace, or hoodie, or sharpen your really expensive beard trimmer or something, you’re not slitting your wrists in a moment of nostalgic depression. You’re just pampering yourself, out of the love you had (and still have!) for yourself.

What It Feels Like To Watch a Chick Flick When You’re Single… And I Mean REALLY Single.

25 Sep

Day 15 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

You will be afraid at first. You will wonder if this is a good idea, or if this is just a recipe for disaster… A masochistic cry for help to anyone who may walk in on you bawling your eyes out.

First of all, picking out a chick flick to watch… all alone… by yourself… without the arms of a strong man around you… is terrifying in itself. It’s like, what can I watch that will cause enough nostalgia and bittersweet sadness to satisfy my need to feel sorry for myself for a few minutes, without also making me lose complete faith in humanity, while also perhaps possibly giving me a fresh new perspective on life and relationships so that I can walk away thoroughly emotionally drained and simultaneously refreshed?

My parents went to bed and so I finished season 5 of True Blood. (Pam, you never cease to amaze me… ) And so I’m clicking through the free movies section thinking, “Okay, Carolyn. You can either go to bed right now and walk away… or… You can do this. You’re in a stable, good place and you CAN watch a chick flick alone. No amount of previous emotional pain can keep you from enjoying a light hearted romantic comedy, OKAY!?” So I go to the sundance channel, hoping that some romantic obscure funny Indy film will catch my eye. There are a ton of random one-word titles… Like… Octopus, or some shit, and when you click on it the description reads something completely unrelated like, “A young man who works in a laundromat realizes his true potential by shaving his beard and weaving mahogany baskets.”

Then I saw a title that caught my eye. I Hate Valentine’s Day. I didn’t even read the description. “Perfect,” I thought. “This is literally perfect.”

Turns out the movie is about a girl who only gives guys 5 dates and then cuts it off, because she loves the fluttery, “honeymoon” stage of dating, but believes that “when the romance is gone, just move on.” She meets this guy and is all like, “Oh you’re cute and you don’t know it, here is my masculine philosophy on relationships and now you want me because I seem fool proof and free spirited I have gorgeous hair and teeth” and he’s all like, “I’m nervous around you but I like it and I want to do something special for you always and forever, despite my complete lack of creativity and resourcefulness” so of COURSE they do 5 dates and then want to keep dating, but neither of them has the balls to say anything. During their time apart the main character finally realizes that she’s been harboring hard feelings towards her father for having an affair and she’s been keeping all men at arm’s length for all of these years because of it. Then this random UPS man has a really moving monologue about him writing “Happy V Day” in syrup on his wife’s pancakes when she’s busy getting their rambunctious kids off to school, and how those little things are really what true love is, not all of the embellishments and stupid dating things that don’t last. So then they both “learn” and “grow” from their experiences and time spent apart and of COURSE there’s the scene at the end where she looks out her window and he’s on the street all like “Here are some references that you only mentioned in passing but I’m bringing them up again now during the climax of the movie so that everyone, including the audience, can see that men really DO listen sometimes! And here are all of your closest friends and family members assembled in the street standing in the shape of a heart,” and she’s all like “Okay let me run down these steps and into your arms and smile REALLY big while you kiss me and I’ll say ‘You’re my boyfriend’ in a really adorable way and then the credits will roll just when our actual relationship is getting started.”

And this whole time I’m sitting on the couch by myself. My cell phone is off to the side. Not being used. I’m not texting anyone. I’m not feeling guilty for not texting anyone, either. I watched an entire movie without having to talk to anyone. Sure, my cell phone was right next to me just in case I did get a text ( I mean come on, people, let’s not get too crazy… ) But it was nice. I was sitting there, watching a movie, completely alone. And I didn’t feel sad or like I was missing out on anything or anyone. I felt at peace.

Sometimes, it’s good to be alone for a while. And let’s be honest, people who are in relationships always say that to lonely depressed single people. Did you ever notice that? But you know what?  I’m only just starting to believe them. Because when I finally do meet someone who has the ability to make me happy, I want to be happy and secure enough with myself, alone, to fully appreciate and enjoy the butterflies they can give me.

But… now that I think about it, I guess I really don’t want someone who is going to “make me happy.” I want to be happy before I even meet them. That way, they’ll just magnify my crazy good, already-there-to-begin-with happiness. Wouldn’t that be something?

So I guess I got what I was asking for when I watched I Hate Valentine’s Day. I got nostalgic. I got a little sad, and yeah, I thought about the love-gone-wrong in my life. But I also learned that I CAN watch a chick flick alone. And not only that, but I can do it without crying. And I can do it while feeling good, and happy. And later, while writing a blog, I’ll realize that I even got a fresh new perspective on relationships and life.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll watch Octopus tomorrow or something.

The Lock

22 Sep

Day 12 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

I am 18, and I am a college freshman. I have just settled in, arranged my room with big pink everythings and waved goodbye to my crying mother and my exhausted father.

Let’s go to this thing, says a girl on our floor.

I have no friends so I say okay yeah let’s go.

Its one of those things that makes you feel pressured to be someone you aren’t. There is loud music and there are bodies and you can feel the heightened expectations slinking through the fake fog on the dance floor. We stop and stare at everyone else trying to have a good time by bumping against a stranger’s bones and muscle and skin. The music is loud. It hurts my chest. We are inhaling each others’ needs and exhaling our own.

I’ve never been the type to stand still so I move a little. Sway my hips a little. My blood is begging to be pumped harder by a nervous heart.

I want to dance I say let’s go dance. They all shift their weight and scratch their elbows.

One of the girls says something to another and they glance at me. She’s weird she says. She thinks I can’t hear.

Someone moves their head and I see his face through the crowd. It’s like a movie but its not because this is my life and I stare. More ponytails and foreheads between us and then he’s back in my vision like a beacon of what-could-be. We both simultaneously move towards the other like magnets. I will look back on this moment later and appreciate that neither of us made the first move, it honestly was mutual.

Hey he says.

Hi.

Let’s dance he says.

Okay.

We dance and it’s like a shaking key fumbling to find a lock. I know we would fit together nicely if we could just calm down. I think of things like this sometimes, think in metaphors on a dance floor. I wonder in this case who is the key. I wonder who is the lock.

We walk outside and August is dying. I am sweaty from the dancing and the girls whispered behind their half curled hands when I left.

It’s warm he says.

I know I say I can’t keep still I feel alive.

Then let’s walk he says.

There is a fountain. I take off my heels and dip my feet inside. He watches my toes contract and asks how anyone does it. I tell him with all beauty there must be pain. He says he thinks I’m poetic. Maybe I am. He asks me about everything and my blood is still racing my hands are still sweating my cheeks are still flushing and it’s all so new so I tell him the true answers to everything he asks. The truth comes out easier when you’re with a stranger who makes life worth living for a few moments. I ask him my questions too and his lips are wet dancing partners of velvet. People walk by and look at us but we don’t care, at least I don’t. I am hot so I lay on the cool cement and he laughs and joins me. His arm does not brush against mine. We look at the stars and hear the fountain water and he says after a while You’re not like other girls.

I think of the ones I came with and how they said she’s weird and say I know.

I like it he says.

Soon people stop walking by and I look at my phone. It’s 3 in the morning.

I’ll walk you back he offers.

I know I say. He likes that.

We get to my dorm and we stop. We both know this is where the magic should end but we feel it spreading out in front of us like a red carpet we just kicked and it just keeps rolling. A crimson path beckoning us to follow. He stands in front of me and I see his arm muscles moving under his skin.

Aren’t you cold he asks.

A little I say.

I don’t have a jacket or I’d give it to you he says and I believe him.

We’re dancing again, an awkward dance of mutual uncertainty. I feel like we are two chess pieces suspended above a board of endless opportunities, lost in the lingering hands of an indecisive player. I wonder who is black. I wonder if I’m a white pawn who can only go one step at a time, or the Queen herself, a million directions and opportunities available at all times. He’d be a bishop I decide, diagonal yet direct. Here we go with the metaphors I think.

I’ll call you. He says the statement like a question.

I’d like that I say Goodnight.

I start to walk away and feel the heat return to my limbs and I suddenly realize that I miss him.

Wait he calls.

I walk back to him and he slowly leans down and gently hesitates. Our lips are touching but he is still hesitating. Velvet asking flesh is this okay is this alright? Flesh flushing fully it’s fine it’s nice. I feel fireworks and butterflies and a million and twelve cliches swirling around in my gut and I squirm. I pull away and his eyes are still closed.

I can work with that, I say when they open again. Velvet parts to show rows of white.

He texts me first and I feel like I’ve won something. It’s not a game but I still feel like I’m winning. We drink beer in his dorm room when I know I shouldn’t. We go to this party and leave early to be alone and just talk. We’re laying in his bed and we talk about God and what it all means. I feel grown up. He gives me his jacket to wear to class when it starts getting cold and my friends raise their eyebrows. I feel so stupid and young. I come home to a rose on my bed and a note that says “These past few weeks have been nothing short of amazing. The dinners, the talks. Thank God I took that dance.” I feel like I’m constantly wrapped in a blanket and I never want to put my feet back on the cold hardwood floor.

We don’t have sex. I like that. I like that so much. I want him and he wants me but we don’t and that’s good. I feel grown up. I feel in control. Weeks and weeks go by and we don’t and I respect myself, respect him, respect us together. I catch myself starting to think of the two of us as an “us.” This scares me but I figure it’s one of those things that you should just let happen.

We’re in his room, sprawled out together and his kisses become quicker with less time in between. Questions and answers all in a trail along my neck and I think this is good. Yes I think in a blurry haze Oh, yes. I feel wanted and happy and safe and secure and I like him. Gosh, I like him so much. I kiss him harder and he is on his back and I kiss his neck I kiss his collar bone and he is silent and I kiss his stomach. Pulses racing, breathing jagged, and fingers searching there are no metaphors in my head now because there is no room, there is only muscle. There is only breath. There are only his eyes locked in mine when I gaze up at him. People say “the heat of the moment” and this must be it, has to be with all of this fire and friction and sudden decisions and satisfied need. I just like him so much.

I do respect you he says later I really do. Like I need to be reminded or something.

Thank you I say.

Don’t thank me for that It’s how it should be.

He goes home for the weekend and I keep myself busy. I don’t like it but I know he wants to. I go running. I do my homework. I wait by my phone but he doesn’t text. That’s okay I tell myself he’s just busy at home. He comes back and something isn’t the same. His eyes look someplace behind me when I talk to him and they are veiled with a secret.

I can’t be serious with anyone he tells me This is great but I’m only a freshman I’m just starting out I don’t want to be tied down because I have to concentrate on school he says Concentrate on God and we moved too fast I need to concentrate on what really matters and what I really want.

What he really wants.

I think back to the “heat of the moment,” to the skin and bones and what he really wanted then. And now I realize maybe I only thought I knew. I feel like I was used but I don’t know why. I feel betrayed and I act like I’m not. I feel cheap and conquered but how can I feel that way when we never had sex?

I decide that he is the lock.

Years go by. A message here, a text there, a phone call, a short dinner to say Hi how are have you been Oh I’ve been great Really Yes Yes I’m fine and you Oh I’m fine too you know just hanging in there. The timing is always off, I’m always with someone else when he is ready or he is busy trying to save someone from themselves while I wait patiently in the darkened wings. I dye my hair black. He gets a tattoo. I don’t like it but what can I say. He buys me a candle that crackles and I listen to it in the afternoon when I skip class for a nap with the window open to let the sound of the rain storm in. The flame flickers and I stare into it as I doze, watching it dance like we did. Bright little blip of passion dancing on the end of a weak and fraying thread.

I am 23, and I am a college graduate. Everything changes. I’m old and young and tired and rejuvenated and ready to start and desperate to rewind. We haven’t spoken and I have forgotten him because I have loved others too deeply, more deeply still. My heart is full and empty with the loss of one life and the gain of another and I get a message.

When do you move he asks Can I see you before you move?

He arrives and I forgot how he sways when he walks. I forgot how his T-shirt clings to his back when he bends over to pick something up. I realize I forgot what he smelled like. We have the whole empty day just begging to be filled with activities. We stand awkwardly between our two cars with the space of four years of experiences stretched out between us.

You drive I tell him I like it when the guy drives. He smiles.

We go to lunch at this restaurant on the river. It looks out over the skyline and he tells me good call. We’re in the shade and it’s perfect because we’re not hot.

Do you want a beer he asks I’m going to get one.

Sure I’ll have a beer.

We are both legal now. I think it’s weird to be a grown up with someone who you’ve never really been grown up with before.

We talk and talk and talk and talk and we get more beers. We both get food and we eat and drink and he looks at me in the eyes a lot. I feel uncomfortable when he looks at me like that. It’s like he’s reaching over and touching my face with the tips of his fingers and whispering something poisonous but he’s not, he’s just looking at me in my eyes. I blush and look down at my hands a lot. We drink more.

I go to the bathroom because I have to pee and the alcohol is making everything warm and my eyelids are plush and heavy. I look under the stalls and my two feet are the only ones. I look at myself in the mirror. I ask my reflection out loud What are you feeling? Do you think you’re feeling anything? I notice that I can’t taste my mouth when I’m washing my hands.

We leave and go to a park. There’s a fountain hidden in some trees and it’s my favorite spot so I take him to it. He talks about his family and a fly lands on his knee. He doesn’t brush it away because he’s still looking at me that way and doesn’t feel it. I pick up a pebble in the fountain and rub it between my fingers. It’s smooth and wet and I toss it over my shoulder. I don’t know why I do that.

Let’s lay down I say I’m sick of sitting on this rock.

Backs in the the itchy grass and I’m trying to keep my dress pulled down in a modest way. He doesn’t look at my legs but just keeps looking in my eyes. He hasn’t touched me yet. Arms haven’t brushed together, hasn’t put his hand on my lower back as we go through a doorway. I like the way he’s looking and not touching. I always liked that. I’m remembering slowly what I always liked as we lay in the grass under the magnolia tree with the fountain gurgling its encouragement from the shade and us not touching. I realize we are laying on our backs by a fountain like the night we met and I decide not to mention that.

We go play mini golf. He says it’s the date we never got to have before. It’s one of those very cool places where teenagers feel older and parents feel younger. It’s all indoors, black light golf with glowing balls. He pays for everything. We go in and I’m not horrible at it. He wins. At hole number 13 he wraps his arms around me from behind and “helps” me line up my shot. He rocks us back and forth like a pendulum and says it’s all in the hips and I laugh.

We leave and it’s dinner time and he asks Are you hungry?

I could eat.

I could too.

He opens the car door for me. Boys don’t do that anymore and I know it’s a silly gesture but it’s not an empty one. At least I think he means it. We go to Olive Garden. He offers to get some wine but I don’t want any. Are you sure he asks and I look in his eyes and smile. I always feel guilty when I know the guy is paying and I can’t help that. We have a quiet dinner together. We make fun of the couple beside us.

They’re on a first date he says It’s the awkward silence of a first date.

No they’ve been dating for a while, they’re just fighting right now See how her foot is crossed and is touching his leg under the table without them even noticing anymore?

You’re good at this he says And we never had any awkward silences did we We talked so easily the first night I met you Four hours worth he says four hours!

It’s getting later and I don’t know what he plans to do. He could drive home tonight or I could offer him a place to stay. His home is hours away and it’s late and he’s paid for everything. He’s made me laugh and I keep looking at him when he takes a bite and isn’t looking back.

My friend has an apartment we could stay at I say Its late and if you’re tired I don’t want you driving.

I brought an extra shirt he says and grins as if he shouldn’t be grinning I didn’t know but I hoped he says I hoped.

We leave and he leaves a big tip. I like that. He puts his hand on my shoulder blades while we leave and his fingers are confident. We buy a bottle of wine on the way home. I grab two chairs and two blankets and we go on the porch.

The crickets are chanting together a strange rhythm and the lake is so still it’s almost spooky. It’s not water at all but a sheet of dark blue glass meant for reflecting the moon and evergreen branches. I drape my legs over his and wrap up in one of the blankets.

It’s beautiful I say the lake it’s nice This whole day was nice I say.

We sit there and I feel content. I am happy to sit here and listen to the crickets and have my legs draped over him and us just being quiet and just listening to the world as if we are not in it. Years happened between us but here we are again and this is just nice.

I never forgot you he says quietly with his hands twirling the knotted hair in the back of my neck. I concentrate on that feeling. I always had you in the back of my mind he says You aren’t like other girls I told you that at the beginning and I meant it I’ve been with other people and so have you but I always thought of you I was so stupid I liked you so much but I was young and I ran when I should of held onto you I like holding you he says.

His hands are moving. I don’t know how it happens but it doesn’t happen the way it did before. There is no question, no hesitation this time as he puts my face between his hands and kisses me fully and deeply and greedily. His mouth grabs for mine too hard. I want the hesitation, the uncertainty but that is no longer here. Not now that I guess he knows what he wants.

What he really wants.

I wait for the fireworks and the feeling of my blood being pumped faster like it did before but that does not happen. I kiss back and I wait but nothing happens. His hands move harder and grab and feel and explore, as if they have been wearing frozen wool gloves for four years and are only now remembering the feel of sun warmed silk. His breath and tongue and hands and muscle and I kiss back and wait and his spine shaking under my fingertips and his little noises that escape his throat and I’m silent and I wait and I wait and nothing happens. His hands touch the strip of skin exposed in the back of my dress and he’s feeling my legs and I’m glad I shaved but I wait and I wait and still there is only waiting.

I want you he says in between kissing me and feeling me. He is smiling and pulling me down and I’m confused. The day has been wonderful and I looked in the mirror and I asked myself what am I feeling. I remembered everything it is about him that I liked. But this is forceful, and different, and needed but needed for who?

He was always the lock, the one who needed a gentle pry of encouragement. The one who clamped up suddenly got jammed and refused to open. But now I feel him reaching for parts of me that I know I don’t want to share with him but I don’t understand why not. I cannot tell who is the lock and who is the key and our chess board has been overturned because someone changed the rules of this game and black becomes white and white becomes gray and I’m caught somewhere in the in between. He is moving every direction but that’s not right I think he can’t be the Queen because I  thought I was and if I’m not that must mean I am a pawn and I am no pawn. No, I think suddenly. I am no pawn.

Would you have sex with me if I wanted I ask quietly because I am wondering and I am confused Right now would you?

Yes he murmurs without a moment of hesitation Oh, yes.

He is so passionate and greedy and I cannot return these advances so we we kiss a little but then I become little spoon.  He calms down and nuzzles his nose in my hair and I stare at a notch in the paint on the wall and I fall asleep after he does.

The sun comes through the windows and I open my eyes and he says can I ask you something.

Sure.

Why do I never hear from you?

I say I don’t know. I say it’s because I’m moving. The truth is getting harder and harder to tell him now and I hate that feeling.

Can we talk more he asks can I come visit again before you move I’d like that he says.

When we say goodbye he lingers. I hate goodbyes and he is putting his hands on my arms and rubbing his fingers there and looking into my eyes. I let him kiss me goodbye again and his tongue works into my mouth. I do not understand why I cannot let my head loll back and drink in the feeling.

And then he pulls away and I am left on the sidewalk waving goodbye. I go back inside and I see the mess of wine glasses and tangled blankets and it smells of him but I don’t bother with that yet. I go out on the porch and breathe.

I try to think about other things but all I can do is replay the night before… Yes I hear him murmur in my memory Oh, yes.

The landscape blurs and I don’t know why but I’m crying. Stop crying this is stupid but there it is, I am. I realize I don’t care who is the lock and who is the key anymore. I don’t care if we were good together and I don’t care if deep down I always wondered what if. Now I see that people can change and you can never go back, and sometimes that hurts more than never having a second chance. The sun is too bright and it’s humid and I’m sweating.

So I watch the geese land on the waves of dirty green water that seemed so calm and so smooth last night.

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.