Luke was the last and the greatest of the stage crushes.
I did know Luke before I saw him on stage as he had been in some of my classes and he was a friend of a friend through Dorothy. But seeing him on stage was one of the most erotic experiences my poor little inexperienced heart had ever gone through.
Do I have your attention now?
Let me set the stage for you (pun very much intended). When I started college, I had decided to take a break from theatre because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Like ya do in college. Everyone around me (from home that is) emphasized that you can’t make money in theatre (and excepting the elite world of Broadway, they’re pretty much right). I missed the stage so much my fall semester that I signed up for Acting I in the spring. I hadn’t seen the theatre department’s fall production and knew very little about the comings and goings of that stage. The spring production was A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was required to see it and write a two-page response to it for class. I went by myself as none of my friends were theatergoers, but I was happy to be there for my love and obsession with Shakespeare. By that time I had seen four different versions of the play, not including the movie or the one I acted in. But my previous theatrical experiences would do nothing to prepare me for what I was about to see.
In short, I hated it. The design and direction were entirely confusing. The Athenians were wearing plastic-y things, the faerie world was all black, and what was with the makeup? The faeries had these black rectangles around their eyes. Oberon and Titania looked like they had stepped out the The Matrix or a rave or something. I didn’t get it. Where were the doublets and capes? This is Shakespeare!! You can’t de-Renaissance SHAKESPEARE!!!
I scribbled into a little notebook at intermission, furious at how they destroyed my beloved Bard. I would complain thoroughly in my paper for class.
Then something happened. About halfway through intermission Oberon (played by Luke) came on stage, but very veeerry slowly. The slowest walk he could manage to center stage where one of the main set pieces was waiting for him – a bright yellow early 20th-century style couch. He sat in the very center of it, spreading his arms wide across the top. And then he stared. At me. At my fellow audience members. His head slowly went from one side to the other. So slowly, you could barely tell he was moving at all. I imagined he was attempting to make eye contact with every person in the room. Look at me. Look at ME. Match my gaze. I wanted to be important enough that this king would include me in his domain. His expression included a slight arrogant smile, like he knew he owned us all and could puppet our wills just as he did with the four lovers and his own queen.
It clicked. A light was shone into my heart and my mind. I got it, I caught it, I wanted it.
I was enthralled by the second half of the play. Everything came to life in my imagination. You could mess with Shakespeare and it was fun and it was thrilling. Of all the productions of Midsummer I’ve ever seen, this was the only one (and is probably still the only one) that actually made me enjoy the Oberon & Titania storyline over the lovers or the mechanicals. I was on cloud nine when I left that show, but was at an entire loss for words on how to describe what I felt. I won’t share my paper here, because it’s a hot mess of adjectives that mean nothing when overly used. In hindsight, I can definitively call it an arousal.
I had a funny feeling in my chest and in my stomach. All intertwined together was Shakespeare, experimental theatre, and sex. I honestly can’t think of a better driving force for living life. The only problem is the impossibility of such a premise, but now is not the time to discuss such a subject because we’re still talking about college, not the real world.
I was used to theatre that was set in a certain time and place and acted with the Stanislavski Method. Realism, naturalism, whatever you want to call it. This show threw all of that back at my face and showed a grittier, more exciting way to do theatre. I didn’t know it then, but my college was the perfect place for me to cultivate a love for the experimental and the weird and it would only grow deeper and deeper as time went on.
I was enamored with Luke thereafter. Ben was forgotten. Everything was incomparable to the talent he possessed. There wasn’t much substance to my feelings beyond the initial emotional tizzy until after spring semester and summer break had passed and I was back to school for my sophomore year. I was hanging out with Dorothy more, which put me in Luke’s path more frequently. Luke and I had another class together. I got to know him a lot better and the more I knew, the more I liked.
Journal entry: September 1, 2005
Why did my mind have to go on hyperdrive as soon as I saw him? I can’t sleep, concentrate, and all I can think about is potential scenarios with him. I feel like I’m going crazy.
I had joined facebook earlier that summer and with some minor stalking and some sly questions I was able to find out that his ex-girlfriend (from high school that is) had been a blonde. Damn. He was into blondes. I toyed with the idea of bleaching my hair for about a millisecond. I was too proud of my gorgeous golden brown waves to subject them to such a process for a boy. Phfft. But that didn’t mean I didn’t think or feel a great many other things.
Journal entry: September 14, 2005
So You want me to have patience. In order for me to be patient, I need hope. I can’t be waiting around for nothing. You know my thoughts about me feeling I’m ready for a relationship. Since You’re telling me to be patient, I’m hoping for something spectacular.
So what am I doing? Am I giving an ultimatum? I don’t think so. I guess I just want to make it clear that I have some pretty high expectations and I don’t want to wait til I’m thirty for a boyfriend.
I’m waiting, God. Not idly, but in hope. Hope in You and Your promises is what I’m holding onto. You said it’s not good for man to be alone and I’m counting on that.
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deterred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life.
Journal entry: September 18, 2005
He doesn’t do anything half-way. That realization came over me today. Luke’s so intense about everything. Just the sheer fact that he doesn’t go half-heartedly about things would make a relationship with him very exciting.
I have a significant memory of going to his dorm room to say hi, or perhaps on the pretense of discussing a class assignment and we ended up getting into a serious conversation. I was feeling sad lately because it was becoming very apparent he didn’t like me back. He asked me how I was, I said only okay. When he asked me why I was only okay, I was struck dumb. Here was my moment: I could tell a boy I liked him for the first time. My answer was hanging in the air and in that second of silence I said…it was my family. I told him about my parents’ divorce instead.
I simply didn’t know how to be friends with a guy without “giving up” too much of myself. Because if you don’t “guard your heart” like high school youth group told you to, you’re gonna end up hurt and in a lot of trouble. But I was just hurting myself by hanging on to my fear.
Journal entry: September 20, 2005
How does one know that one loves or is in love? I feel like I’m in love with him. But how can I be in love with someone I don’t know well enough?
It’s hard because he’s a guy and I don’t know how to be his friend and I feel like I’m giving away too much of myself. He saw right through me. I have been asking for deep intimate friendships since I was in elementary school. Then You hand me Luke who asks me some rather poignant questions in order to get to know me better and I clam up. I know my answers. But I’m so terrified. I’m terrified by the two things I want most: love and friendship.
I still want him, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be in control of my attitude in regards to my patience and hope.
Please let it be different this time.
I’ve never forgotten that moment of missing my chance to be brave, but it was a catalyst in helping me let go of him seeing as how I couldn’t actually get myself to do anything. It has also led me to being decisively honest when people ask me how I am.
Luke and I were better as friends and theatrical colleagues anyway. My feelings would soon be swept aside to make room for Sean, who also happened to be Luke’s roommate. If God really was telling me to be patient and Sean was what I was waiting for, then God has a really sick and twisted sense of humor.
I had a nice little catch-up lunch with Luke a few weeks ago and I had another wide-open chance to tell him he was going to be on this blog, but I didn’t do it. He said he hasn’t had a chance to read anything on here yet, but that his wife, Chloe keeps up with it. That little girl from ten years ago still clutching onto her fears of being liked or disliked just for being honest. I did tell him anonymously about my crush on him once. Luke married Chloe (a blonde) in 2010 (which also happens to be the weekend of Andrew). They have a really excellent meet-cute story. At the wedding reception, there were these blank books getting passed around with prompts in them to write down memories and such. I used one little sentence to confess my crush within those pearly white pages. I don’t really know if they knew that was me or even if they read all the little notes in those books – but I guess they do now.