I never spent much time in the library. In fact, I was opposed, on principle, to doing work in there. I didn’t need hard copy books to get my work done and I scoffed at assignments that required non-digital bibliographies. I was a reporter and photographer back then. Deep in the Journalism Major, my assignments kept me in Bergeron ticking off hours in Photoshop, Premiere, Flash, and Dream Weaver. Beyond that, it was me, my camera, and a pad of paper. The library just wasn’t my scene. It turned out, however, that I would spend many nights in the Library. Sure, I did some studying, but it wasn’t the work I went there for.
I first laid eyes on Julia Watson ‘10 on the first day of Chorale my junior year after she transferred from Drew University. Sure, I was struck by her beauty, her long, very blonde hair, but she caught my attention that first day because she was the only person I’d ever seen wear a dress to class. It was a pale blue. During that first semester, Fall 2007, we interacted little. We were in Chorale together, but while she sat in the front-right with the sopranos, I was in the back-left with the tenors.
In the beginning of 2008, I was cast in the theater department’s Spring Mainstage called Closer Than Ever, directed by Cathy Hurst. Since you’ve never heard of it, the show is a series of thematically connected songs in which there are no through-plots or characters. Julia was also cast and starting in February of that year, we finally began interacting on a regular basis.
Julia and I, along with my twin brother, Kevin ‘09, as well as Brendan O’Leary ‘10 and Kate Clark ‘10 connected right away that semester. The five of us were all accepted to go to the American College Theater Festival (ACTF) in Massachusetts that year. Kevin, Kate, Brendan, and I were sharing a hotel room, having been very close friends for two years by this time, when on the first night Julia knocked on our door and asked to crash with us, not knowing very well those in the room she was assigned. Those couple nights would solidify some of the most important friendships in my life.
Back to St. Mike’s and back to reality, we continued the rehearsal process of Closer Than Ever. You may have heard the term showmance. If not, it is the phenomenon in which two people discover strong feelings for each other during the rehearsal process of a play or musical. This is a very real thing that happens in just about every show, but it’s more than just that you’re spending every evening with someone. Not only are you working towards a shared goal, but you’re also witnessing the utter truth of someone. There is no better way to glimpse exactly who a person is than watching them work towards being someone else. It’s powerful and it happened to me. The long process of falling in love with Julia began there, and I didn’t even know it.
After ACTF, the friendship of us five continued to thrive. After class and after rehearsal, we would all congregate in Townhouse 305, closed up in my tiny bedroom (yes, I was a junior living in the 3’s) to spend the evenings chatting and eating Dominos: Half Bacon, Half Pepperoni. This continued into my senior year, just in a different house, 337 (yes, I lived in the 3’s for two years). We were, and still are, a family.
Hilarious sidebar: Kevin, my twin, would go on to marry Victoria Townsend ’08, who was dating my 305 housemate at the time. While the five of us hung out, she was courteously forgiving despite her noisy neighbors. They didn’t get together until after both graduated, though Kevin always pined for her. They live in Medford, MA now.
Anyway, it’s important to note that I was never Julia’s boyfriend during this time. The reasons are complicated, but all you need to know is that Julia and I felt very strongly for each other, but never made it official. I should have known then how important she was to me, because in those two years, I found myself in the place I never expected more often than I would have guessed.
Julia was a very good student. She worked hard. Wrote and read and studied everything she was assigned and was a prolific highlighter user. Like many, she preferred seclusion and quiet when she worked, so she spent her time in the logical place, the Library. I would regularly send the post-Alliot “where you at?” text and she would respond that she was trying to get work done without distractions. Naturally, I couldn’t have that. Distracting Julia was pretty much my strongest skill at the time. I used to pack up my books and venture over to the Library to track her down. I just wanted to be near her and if doing homework in the Library was the way to make that happen, I was willing to make the sacrifice. I got more work done in those hours than I ever had before. I remember fondly, when I was able to distract her, that we would explore the stacks and look through art books together. When we were done, we’d join Kevin, Kate, and Brendan in the 3’s. It was a beautiful time in my life.
As I mentioned, things were complicated, life got in the way, and so we never got together. I graduated a year ahead of her, moved to Washington DC, and chalked her up to being the one that got away.
Just kidding, though we dropped out of touch for a while, a year and a half later we began chatting again. We visited each other in Vermont and DC and made our relationship official on Thanksgiving 2010. She soon moved to DC to be with me and a little more than a year after that, we moved back to Burlington. Two years later I proposed. After a thirteen month engagement we were married in New Hampshire, officiated by our theater professor and director, Cathy, with Kevin, Brendan, Kate, Victoria and over a hundred others there to celebrate with us. Since then, we bought a house in Colchester and we’re now expecting our first child in July.
She is the most perfect person I have ever met and I am constantly amazed that I get to spend my days and nights with this person I almost let drift out of my life. I am so lucky and so grateful.
– Andrew Parise ‘09