A missing piece

What a whirlwind this summer’s been!
It’s amazing how quickly 5 weeks flies by… And man have I ever packed them in. Like canned sardines, packed. Mmm… Sardines. Ha! Sardines…
Once in 5th grade my Mom packed a tin of sardines and crackers in my lunchbox. I thought it was a great lunch but apparently Natalie Alotis didn’t agree… she went running to the trashcan to upchuck hers. And yet reminiscing about my elementary school days is not what this post’s supposed to be about…
So what is this supposed to be about?
That’s a good question…

I mean really, I don’t even know where to begin! I could blog about the craziness that was June 12th: our last show of Giselle, my last show dancing with six amazing coworkers, two company parties, and oh yes… my Dad’s birthday too. I could blog about the week-long road trip vacation I took to Billings, MT with my mom. I could blog about the new place that’s become my default home: DERUmarket – the new little artisan take-away market my dear friends opened in Kirkland. I could blog about baby showers, bridal showers… The list could go on and on and on…
Sadly none of these make the cut tonight. Hopefully (if I can get my act together), they’ll make it on the blog roll before September sneaks up on us.

So tonight I’m blogging about a missing piece.

Monday- yesterday, marked the first day of what will be my 8th season dancing for Pacific Northwest Ballet. That sentence in an of itself could and should be yet another post! But there was something off about yesterday… a piece that was missing. You see, yesterday also marked something else. It was the first day, the first season since I began dancing professionally for PNB that I was not greeted by my green-eyed, curly-haired, phlegm-hacking friend. His name is Barry Kerollis and I miss him desperately.

There’s so much that I could say about Barry. So much… From his mullet-stylin’ younger years when he taught himself how to play every instrument under the sun to the time he was “working on his double axels” in rollerskates (yes, you heard me those giant clunky four-wheeled rollerskates), Barry could and can always make me laugh. His life has been far from ordinary, and someday I’d love to write his story so the whole world can know what an incredible individual he is. But for now, this blog will have to do. So below is the speech I wrote for him and delivered June 12th, 2011. It was the best I could do to encapsulate in a matter of moments who this very unique, very special and very dear friend is, and what he’s meant to not only me but all of us at PNB.

 Well I’ve been stressing over this speech for the past week. Surprise surprise… And one night over Facebook chat Barry, trying to help de-stressify, told me that if all I said was “I love you” he’d be happy.  Anything after that would be like the cherry on top of the sundae.

So Barry, I love you.
Now begin the multiple toppings to this sundae of a speech.
I don’t remember the first time I met Barry or my first impression of him. I wish I could tell you all some great story but I can’t. We were both hired the same year, but it wasn’t until the end of that year that I think we really became friends. Having both survived the “great transition,” I think we just naturally gravitated toward one another. For the first couple years it seemed we were in an unspoken competition for who could use up more sick days. He says he won, but I’m not so convinced, although I will say he always had the most extreme reasons for using a sick day. He’s always had a flair for the dramatic. His advice for me in giving this speech was to pretend I was giving his eulogy. Ha! Well instead I’m gonna be cheesy and do an acrostic.

B. “B” is for Bunhead. The thing about you Barry is I think I know you and then you tell me another story that blows my mind. For example I just learned that he used to call ballet companies saying he was interested in becoming a season subscriber in the hopes that they’d send him brochures with dance photos that he could look at and cut out. And then there are those days that I’d find you on your lunch break in the production office watching/studying archive videos. But in all seriousness there are few people I’ve come across who actually love dance, ALL forms of dance as much as you do. You’re constantly on the look out for new things to inspire you be it from a local performance or a youtube video. And this passion for dance is reflected not only in the way you perform, but in the daily grind of class and rehearsals as well. From your chilling performance of Mercutio, to your tumbling skills in Ordinary Festivals, you literally throw yourself into every role. Not only that but you’re one of the most versatile dancers I’ve met displaying your clean technique in the 2nd Theme from The Four Temperaments, your contemporary prowess in One Flat Thing Reproduced and Serious Pleasures, and even your knack for musical theater in your amazing performace of Cool from West Side Story Suite. But best of all I think is your ability to work in cumbersome costumes… On Barry’s performance of Red Riding Hood from Sleeping Beauty:
“Leanne Duge and Kerolis have some great turns in this. Between this role and Bottom I wonder if he’s found a specialty “Will dance wearing a big head.”  Sorry… I just had to.

A is for Advocate. Not only did you step up to be the point person/dancer liason for Backstage Pass, always giving us those great announcements every second Friday of the Rep, but you’ve been our fearless AGMA rep. I know Abby’s already mentioned this, but Barry, you really have been an invaluable and fearless leader in our company. Thank you for standing up for us.  Thank you for never taking that job lightly – ha! If only people could see that notebook of yours! Thank you for asking the difficult questions, for saying the things everyone was feeling but not willing to say themselves…  And this brings me to R.

Resonant… as in loud. As in gregarious and outspoken. Be it written on a T-Shirt, a Facebook post or just simply on your face, you’ve never been one to hide your thoughts, feelings or emotions. Always on the cutting edge, you were into blogging  long before blogging was even big. “Over 400 posts, 25,000 views, and a whole lot’a drama. I’m not one to be quiet.” Well you said it Barry, I didn’t. But I remember a conversation we had a while ago about this “voyeuristic journaling” as I liked to call it, and you told me that people were genuinely interested in you, and your daily life. They found it fascinating… and I can’t say I disagree. In fact, I truly admire your openness with people and how readily you share yourself and your life with others. There truly is no greater gift than giving of yourself and Barry you give this gift often, to me and to everyone you meet. Which brings me to R #2.

Relational. Of all the things that makes you you Barry it’s your deep love for people… for the people in your life. You are unfailingly generous and hospitable, always opening up your home for get –togethers… be it a cocktail party, game night or my personal favorite karaoke. But these little shin-digs are about more than having a good time and a good drink… You really invest yourself, and pour youself out for the people you love. You write handwritten personal notes. You give the most amazing Christmas gifts ever. And you’re always there. To chat with at 2am when venting is oh so necessary, to hug when the tears won’t stop flowing, to drive to the ER and be a 24hr nurse when the poo hits the fan. It’s hard to think of what you wouldn’t do. You are in my mind the definition of a good friend. Of the best friend. Of the kind of friend I wish I were and hope to be.

And now finally to Y – Why do you have to go? Why must things change? But I’m reminded that change is a necessary, an imperative ingredient to growth. For as much as I hate change I hate stagnancy more. And BK I want you to grow! I want you to be the best you can be. And I know you will because unlike me you don’t hate change, but rather you embrace it. You’re constantly looking ahead, evaluating your dreams, goals and desires and following the path that will enable you to achieve them. You’re not afraid. You see life as an adventure and “can’t” is a word that doesn’t exist in your vocabulary.  But I just can’t wait to see all the amazing and wonderful things you will do, because you will do them.

So I guess I shouldn’t be asking why but what… what are we going to do without you? What am I going to do without you? Who’ll be waiting in the stage left wing to catch my enormous airbite and cheer me on in my 20-something snow? Who’ll be up in the therapy room to argue with me about Siberian weather conditions, entertain me with crazy stories of Belltown bus rides, or to talk about our mutual obsession with coffee. And who’ll be there when barre is over to greet me with a smile, a nod and an “eh-oh” every morning?
Oh Barry “I love you” seems too small a phrase to convey how much you mean to me, and what a blessing your friendship has been. And words cannot even begin to express how much I’m going to miss you. But I am so proud of you for following your heart and so excited for this next chapter in your very extraordinary life. Ballet X is so blessed to have you in their company, and we have been privileged to have you in ours. And praise Jesus we’re both Facebook addicts. Seriously. So here’s to you Barry! L’chaim!!!”

So tomorrow… Well if you’ve read this far down, tomorrow marks Barry’s first performance at his new home with BalletX in the city of brotherly love. So BK this is my “merdé” gift to you!!! Dance your heart out friend. I wish I could be there in the audience to cheer you on, but know we are all so proud of you back here in Seattle. Cheers!!!


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