Remembering Robbie

Good day my lovelies. A few months ago — May 25 to be exact — I lost one of best friends: Robbie. My old friend Danny called, and I knew when his name popped up on my phone exactly what he was going to say.

I have the amazing ability to compartmentalize my grief and sadness. When I found out that Robbie had passed, I put my grief in a box in my head to deal with at a later time. It’s like my head keeps the information away from my heart until I can cry or mourn on my own time. But the tricky thing about compartmentalized grief is that if you don’t deal with it soon, it seeps out at the worst times.

I met Robbie in 1993, and we bonded immediately. He had a friend, Deborah McElhanney, who was apparently obsessed with Cassie Nova. He asked if I would jump out of a cake for her birthday and perform Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One.” I told him absolutely and asked if I could help make the big-ass cake. Robbie, Danny and I spent the next few days constructing a giant fake cake out of cardboard and construction paper. It was hideous, but it served its purpose.

By the time we finished and had Deborah’s birthday party, Robbie and I were inseparable. I spent days at a time at Robbie and Danny’s. They had a cute apartment off of Gilbert and Herschel, an intersection that just so happened to be a cruising area for the gays.

One of my favorite memories of that place was when we yelled at this guy who had been cruising and walking his dog for like six hours straight. We hung out of their window and yelled for him: “Take that dog home! He needs a break! If you ain’t found no dick yet, you ain’t gonna. Go home!”

Over the next months, we all became very close friends. Some of you may judge and not understand, but when we were all together, we partied. Like, hardcore. We were young and dumb, and, although I wish I hadn’t partied for as long as I did, I do not regret any of it. We had some of the best times of our lives back then.

Robbie was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend. He was weird, and he made you feel like you did not have to hide your weirdness.

When I say “weird,” I do not mean that in a bad way. I have always been an odd bird, so having a friend that not only embraced my uniqueness but encouraged it was so freeing.

Robbie always carried a bag of some sort, and in it would be the most random shit. He always had stickers, a disposable camera, a puppet of a cockroach. (He called it BlockaRoach, because he would tell us tales of BlockaRoach cruising the block, always on the hunt for dick.) He always had a book of blank pages in case he decided to draw something or wanted to leave a note somewhere. He always had markers, glitter and glue, because he never knew when he would want to make a collage.

One of my favorite things about Robbie was his love of music. He created the soundtrack of my youth. He could make you fall in love with a song just by how passionately he loved it. He made mixtapes for all of his friends. I jokingly told him once that Celeste Martinez puts the Uptown Girls song “Losing You” in all of her mixes, and, after that, every mix he made had that song on it.

Every night we went out — it didn’t matter where — we would dance. We danced for hours at a time. Robbie did not care if there was no one on the dance floor or even if there was a dance floor; he would dance. His unabashed love of just dancing whenever he felt like was such a special thing to me.

I always wanted to be that person but never found the courage until I met Robbie. When he started to dance, it was like it gave everyone else permission to dance.

Our party ended when Robbie went to jail.

It was soon after 9-11, and that judge wanted to make an example out of Robbie and anyone else that was caught with drugs. He went away for about three years, and, in all honesty, it actually brought us closer together. He would send me a letter just about every week.

His letters were amazing. He was a talented writer and would make up little stories for me when he didn’t have anything he wanted to talk about. I wrote to him, but, I’m ashamed to say, not nearly as much as I should have.

He told me once that any day he gets something in the mail is a good day, so I got him subscriptions to about five different magazines.

Everything from Entertainment Weekly to Cat Fancy. I sent him books that he wanted to read. I would send him books I hoped he wanted to read because I liked them. We had very different tastes but usually liked the same books.

When he got out, we hung out some. But by then I was with my husband, so we didn’t hang out as much. Plus, Robbie lived in Waco.

But at least once a month he would drive to Dallas for us to go to a movie, a concert or shopping. He made time to be with me.

Whenever we would go to a concert or anywhere, we always had a good time. It was different but still fun.

Our friendship was more than just drug buddies. He was part of my family. We could go weeks without talking, but as soon as we got together again, it was like no time had passed.

Then he stopped coming to hang out a few years ago. I just figured he was as busy as I was, and finding the time when we were both free was getting difficult. We still texted a few times a week or would tag each other in stuff on Facebook. Then one day I realized I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so I called him, and he didn’t answer. I texted and got no reply. I realized I hadn’t seen any of his Facebook activity in a while either, so I got worried.

It turns out that he had Huntington’s disease, a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain. His dad died from it, so when he started showing the symptoms, he didn’t tell any of his friends. He hid it, but it progressed much faster than it did with his dad.

I wish I had pushed him to talk to me about it. I wish I could have been there when he was feeling alone. I wish I was a better friend to him. I realized the other day that the last time I heard his voice was when he called me to see if I was okay after we lost our pup, Sunny. It sounded like he had been crying, but I wasn’t thinking of him. I was in my own feelings. Robbie was not a big sharer when it came to what he was going through, but I should have forced it out of him.

Last Sunday we had a celebration of his life. Our friend Danny put together an amazing event. Instead of a funeral, we had a dance party. It was cathartic and fun dancing with Danny and our other bestie Ruel. We danced to a Robbie Dodd playlist, and it almost felt like he was there. Danny gave me two vials of Robbie’s ashes mixed with glitter. Sounds weird but it was perfect for Robbie. The second vial was to sprinkle around Robbie’s favorite places. He will be with us forever in the Rose Room and on every dance floor I can find.

I will miss him forever. Now I need to open my box of grief and deal with these emotions … maybe tomorrow.

Remember to always tell the people you care about that you love them, while you have the chance. Also, love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova