i started paying more attention to my writing here after our relationship had officially ended (but was by no means over) largely as an escape.
a way to connect to the new world i was entering into that didn’t include the person who’d been my sidekick for so many years and in such an overwhelmingly all-encompassing way.
as i’ve mentioned before , chalise is my best girlfriend. we went to school together from first grade until we graduated from highschool, and during that time dated twice.
she was my first real girlfriend, we were each other’s firsts (yeah, that), and she was the last person i kissed before i went off to college in california.
sidenote: (chalise may kill me for saying all that to strangers (your best friend’s a blogger…deal), or she may hate the picture i’ve put up (it’s the only one i have of you two!) but tough shit, caribbean beach bum.)
when i returned to chicago, she and i would run around this wonderful city constantly; we were barely employed, young and crazy, and both loved the live music scene (to a fault).
we were seeing shows four and five times a week, and basically inseparable…when i wasn’t with my boys, i was hanging out with her.
i’d heard plenty about cha’s best friend from college; her roommate and the yin to her yang…”greatest girl”, “have to meet her”, ya ya ya. somewhere in the midst of our shananigans cha told me she might be moving downtown (we were in the burbs at this point) and moving in with this mystery best friend, kate.
“doesn’t she live with her boyfriend?”
“yeah…but they’ve ended things, and he’s moving out.”
i’ll never forget that move.
i moved chalise in on what i think was a saturday. we showed up with all of her shit to a cluttered two-bedroom apartment in logan square, to find the exiting ex-boyfriend walking out the front door with three bags and a few paintings, still loading his car. i was introduced to kate (hm…cute!) and the next few hours were spent doing laps between the car and the new bedroom.
the girls giggled excitedly all afternoon about their plans to ‘feminize’ the place, how GREAT it was going to be to live together again, and on and on. we made plans to head out that evening (as always) into lincoln park for kate’s first night as a bachelorette; our respective local friends – highschool, college, random – would join us out.
kate and i got along like we’d been friends since childhood…our common bond of chalise was all the background we needed to become thick as thieves from moment one. she was hilarious, confident, fun, and looking back…energized by the conclusion of her previous relationship and it’s recent bout of sadness.
a weight had been lifted, and she was in a beautiful place that night.
we spent most of the night on opposite sides of the bar…she with her highschool friends…me with mine. i remember a particular women (a cougar, it must be said) i’d met recently showing up to meet us…her coy flirtations and aggressive advances anything but lost on me.
we all spent the night drinking and laughing.
at some point that night, chalise had to go home to bed. since i was crashing at their place, she pulled kate and i together to make sure we could get one another home; we looked at one another, smiled real big, and agreed to catch a cab together.
i remember later looking down the long cherry wood bar and smiling to one another as our glances met.
all night i held off my aggressive suitor and chatted with my buddies.
eventually the bar closed, and we all spilled out onto lincoln avenue flagging down cabs and bidding our goodbyes. as i turned back to the bar’s entrance, looking for kate so i didn’t lose her, i was met with two hands on my waist and the aforementioned cougar’s inquiry into my plan for the “rest of the evening” (thinly veiled, yes?).
i looked past her, pointed at kate walking out of the bar,
and said point blank,
“…i’m going home with THAT girl.”
it would become a poignant memory in the history of “us”…a comical reminder of the fact that we really never looked back after that night.
we shared a cab home, and as she handed me a blanket and a pillow for the couch, and we laughed and talked and laughed some more, i turned to her and said, “can i just sleep in your bed with you? i don’t want to stop hanging out.”
looking back, she couldn’t believe she said yes.
looking back, i think she just didn’t know what to say.
and at the time, my request was entirely platonic. it was about staying up late and relating to someone i immediately trusted and wanted to connect with.
but it also marked the beginning of the most rewarding, genuine, loving relationship i’ve ever experienced…and one that lasted for years.
one that for a while i thought would never end.