I never thought that you would be the one to hold my heart.
- Christina Perri
In my defense, I was 17 and an idiot. It’s completely like escargot. You have to try it to know you don’t like it (or love it). I had to date a cuckoo-pants to a) know he was a cuckoo-pants and b) know that I’m not really a cuckoo-pants kind of girl. Everyone gets one cuckoo-pants freebie. And so I was an idiot romantically involved with a bigger idiot when rehearsals for Our Town first began. Coupled with the inexplicably large amount of attention I was getting from the male population at the time (did I mention that I was 17 and an idiot and boy-crazy?), I hardly noticed Kyle.
Kyle has always been calm. If you ever meet him, you’ll know what I mean. Kyle just exudes like…an oasis of calm. This is what makes him so fantastic in a crisis. It’s what makes him an insanely good stage manager. He just has this way of making you feel like if the world is about to end, you might as well eat that last slice of pizza. He’s quiet and he thinks a lot and when he listens to you, he looks at you with these big sea-green eyes that somehow say, “I know what it’s like to be sad and I can be sad with you right now. And that’s okay.” (7 plus years later, I’ve learned that his eyes also say things like, “I don’t want to take out the garbage. You do it.” and “Me Kyle. Me want buffalo wings.” His eyes are very verbose.)
But I didn’t pay attention to any of this because I was busy being heavily
Then a couple things happened that really altered the course of our lives. One, Sir Cuckoo-Pants was like, “I’m going cray-cray, ain’t nobody gonna stop me…” and started being more of a royal you-know-what than I had imagined possible. Secondly, Kyle’s older brother Orion, his hero, his mentor, passed away very suddenly.
It’s funny the things that stick in the memory. I remember our director, Courtney, making the announcement to the cast that Kyle’s brother had died, that Kyle had understandably left the show to go and be with his family, that he was welcome to return to the production but that we, of course, would understand if he did not. And then she passed around a sympathy card for us to sign. I remember this clearly. I remember holding in the card in my hand and suddenly feeling ashamed because I couldn’t exactly remember who Kyle was, couldn’t remember ever having spoken to him really, and I couldn’t think of anything to say. I read the many comments: “You’re in our thoughts and prayers.” “You’ll get through this.” “Our hearts are with you.” “So sorry for your loss.” All well-meaning. And all utterly pointless. I was sorry for his loss. But that wouldn’t matter to him. I sat there with the pencil in my hand, staring at the card and thinking, I can’t even remember if we’ve had a conversation. What on earth could I possibly write that wouldn’t be completely irrelevant and arrogant? I signed my name in small letters and passed the card on as quickly as possible, strangely wishing I had known Kyle well enough to be allowed to care. What I didn’t know until much later was that Kyle had looked for my name on the card, that he had paused when he saw my signature, that he had been grateful for it. “Honesty. Nothing fake,” he would tell me, “That meant so much to me.”
I consider this a pivotal moment in our love story because if Kyle had chosen not to come back, if he had decided to stay with his mom after the funeral, to help look after his family…it would have been completely understandable. And he and I would never have spoken.
To Be Continued