The holidays were over and rehearsals for As You Like It were in full swing as we geared up for our opening night. I was playing the part of Audrey, and being the small, slap-stick comedic role, I had a lot of free time to chat with and get to know my cast mates. I talked with everyone and didn't devote my time to anyone in particular--with the exception of Zach.
Now, I should probably mention two things. 1) I never date a cast mate and 2) My ex and I had gotten back together over the holidays. These two facts made my interactions with Zach less than romantic, but I couldn't help but be attracted to him.
He was this artsy, cool dude who spoke his mind and didn't care what others thought of him. He took theatre seriously but wasn't pretentious about it, and my oh my those eyes and that hair and those arm muscles. Obviously, I wasn't the only girl who noticed these things, and the other females vying for his attention both placated and stoked my jealousy. And I'm a competitive person, so even if I couldn't have him, I still wanted to win his affections (terrible and selfish, I know).
So I "ran into him" a lot backstage, or I'd time it so we were both waiting in the same area to go on stage at the same time. We talked regularly during our downtime in the dressing rooms, and soon people began to notice us.
One evening after the show had opened as I was being laced into my corset, Jennifer, Davis, and I started having conversations about our significant others. I can't remember what exactly we were saying but at one point Jennifer turned to me and said, "So how long have you and Zach been dating?"
I started laughing and said, "Oh no! Zach isn't my boyfriend!" and Jennifer looked surprised and said something to the effect of, "You two just seem to click."
I finished getting ready and nothing more was mentioned of me and Zach, but my mind began to wander and imagine what it might be like to date Mr. Williams.
So what did I do? Well, nothing, of course, since I was still dating my ex. I did, however, find plenty of excuses to invite Zach over to the apartment for parties and game nights. He always accepted my invitation and my heart would do a little skip whenever he showed up, but I never said anything.
Right before As You Like It closed, Zach hosted a cast party at his house. I went to the party (by myself? with my ex? can't remember), and caught my first glimpse into Zach's world. There were musical instruments and artwork everywhere. And when I asked who did the paintings, I found out it was Zach. It took me by surprise. The only image I had of him was this guy from rehearsals who smoked and was generally quiet, but now he was an actor and a musician and an artist and a really good party host.
At some point a very large group of college kids crashed the party, and Zach, Davis, and I huddled around the base of the stairway for self preservation. Some random girl who was smashed came up to me and asked, "Where's the bathroom?"
I said, "Up the stairs and it's the door on the left."
"Oh! Do you live here?" she slurred.
"Yeah! I rent it out with Zach and Addison," I replied with fake valley-girl enthusiasm.
"Wow! Great house!"
Davis and I laughed and I turned to Zach and said, "I hope you don't mind that I live here now."
"Not at all," he said with a laugh and a smile, and for a moment I was both happy and confused. Happy because I knew he liked me at least a little. Confused because saying I lived there had come out so natural and the words felt so comfortable. But I wrote it off as a side-effect of the alcohol I had consumed and reminded myself that I was already in a relationship.
After the show closed I only saw Zach on rare occassions. Rehearsals for Harvey had started and they consumed most of my evenings and weekends, so parties and game nights became almost obsolete. I was also trying really hard to make my relationship with my ex work--I wasn't accustomed to giving up on stuff like relationships (even when I should)--so I didn't seek Zach out.
But fate would bring Zach and me back together one night in March--a night of fun and revelry, a night with Jack Daniels and fireworks, a night that almost marked the end of our friendship for good...