During sophomore year I was cast in my first college production opposite my acting class partner. He was attractive, charming, elusive, and unattainable. Basically, he was my type. I'm sure that working together for hours on end, along with character transference of emotion, had a lot to do with it but it wasn't long before I developed a major crush on him. There is probably a troublesome psychological explanation as to why I'm attracted to unavailable men, the likes of which we will not go into detail here for the sake of brevity and my sanity, but amidst what I assumed to be mixed messages and heavy flirtation I impulsively kissed him one night at a party. Feeling sexy and victorious, and also highly intoxicated by one beer too many, I went home with him. Ever the gentleman, he made me sleep in the guest room and locked his own door. The next day I met his parents and afterwards he drove me home. His mom loved me. I knew this was going splendidly well. He left that summer for an acting workshop in New York and I was left in the murky grey area of unanswered questions. I still have my diary entry for that day: "If you love something let it go. If it comes back it's yours and if it doesn't then it never was." Ryan came back to school that autumn and we stayed friends, surprisingly without any awkwardness. The following summer he came out to our class when it was evident he had found the love of his life: JianCarlos. I was in denial for all of five minutes until I realized that not only was I happy for my friend, I'd also just gained a new one.
Skip ahead five years and it is summer again, only this time it is one hot Fourth of July in Prospect Park. There's nothing like barbecue, cold beer, and competitive Frisbee with your urban family. And although this one in particular was bittersweet because one of our own would be leaving for California, we made every irreplaceable moment count: watching the fireworks, singing the National Anthem in perfect off-key-Kumbaya-style unison, and re-telling our favorite "Heads Up" inside jokes (Beethoven and Mulan, you know who you are!) I woke up the next day sore from all the activity and opted for a day in. Feeling angsty for no real reason other than me just being me, I sat down with a romantic movie which only managed to worsen my mood. The guy marries this chick after only a week? Because he just knows she’s The One? Who writes this crap? OK, so maybe I was bitter. Rom coms usually cheered me up. Something was wrong. Just as I was contemplating a second round of chocolate chip cookies there was a knock at the door. Standing there were Ryan and Jian- “Change out of that potato sack. We’re going out.” This is not the first time my boys bring me out of my self-imposed misery bouts but it surprises me how often they willingly put up with my mercurial bullshit. A day that would have been wasted moping around in my comfy nightgown (ahem, NOT a potato sack) was instead filled with playing football in the park and chomping down some mean Vietnamese sandwiches. That night we ended up in a warehouse party in Williamsburg. DJ Lobo was spinning away and we tore up the dance floor, sweating buckets, till five o’clock in the morning. Recuperating the following morning called for double-stacked pancakes and a car ride around sunny Brighton Beach. Life is what happens when you leave your apartment.
My day job was particularly slow which left me with a whole lot of unwarranted free time. As a Type A personality who can’t enjoy just “being,” I filled up the hours with auditions, shooting new scenes, and working on monologues. I went to INTAR’s Monday Night Salon and Soka Gakkai meetings. I was doing anything and everything to fill the gap left by my recent lack of routine. Mainly I just didn’t like all this free time to think. So I called up friends, made plans, went to the movies, spent an entire weekend learning Cups and proceeded to annoy everyone around us by singing it at restaurants, bars, beer gardens, train stations… On my way to the office one morning I was waiting on the outside of the curb for the light to change. I was so preoccupied with being on time that I didn’t hear the dump truck’s warning beep as it was backing up towards me. An angel in a white sundress moved me over to the sidewalk. I thanked her and made it to work a little more than shaken up. If I had been present in that moment I would have been aware of my surroundings. I would have heard the beeping noise alerting me to wake up, to look up. Here was my life and I was missing it. I was letting a job define my time’s worth. I’d been viewing this whole thing wrong. In a city that rushes past faster than it can kill you, this was a blessing in disguise- one that was asking me to slow down and enjoy every second left of summer. Because it wouldn’t last forever. As someone who likes sole control of her path, I have to remember that the journey must also lead me. It was time for fun. Pure, frivolous fun on a girls’ night out dancing on a hotel rooftop in SoHo on Thursday, drinking bourbon and cokes in the Lower East Side on Friday, a keg party in Brooklyn on Saturday, and wearing a pretty dress to the Met on Sunday.
I used to believe that true love was a fairy tale definition for romantic love and that family was a group of relatives. But I have learned that true love is for anyone that knows your ugly and loves it just as much as your beauty; anyone who sees you clearly, objectively and loves you anyway. That too goes for family- both the one chosen for you and the one you choose for yourself. As it turns out Ryan did come back to me. Our relationship blossomed into something more than friendship, he became family. So maybe it won’t look the way you thought it would once upon a time. It can look even better. If you can stop questioning, the people that are meant to stay in your life will find a way to do so and when we let go of control we find the joy of living in the grey. This one’s for you, my loves- “my boys.”