Friday, September 27, 2013

Robert Roldan, Don't Ever Wipe That Smile Off Your Face

One my favorite Robert head shots :)
One night in Newark, NJ, on October 17, 2010, I met the love of my life and future husband. His name is Robert Roldan, and he was the third runner-up on Season 7's "So You Think You Can Dance".

LOL JK! Though I did indeed meet him, it will probably just remain an infatuation. I believe he has a girlfriend and I am happy for him that he has such a positive lady figure in his life. :)

Here is why I am talking about him now. First of all, "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" didn't exist back then for me to talk about it, but just recently he made "SYTYCD" history, which made me invested in him all over again.

Back in June 2012, Robert got into a serious accident and almost died from it. He told us fans about it through Facebook. Here is what he wrote.

When I first read this I told my friend Lauren, who actually met him with me, about it. We both were concerned but more so grateful that he survived. I knew he had some recovering to do and that he would bounce back, but I never really understood the effects of his injury until recently.

On "SYTYCD" August 13, Robert made a sensational comeback to the show as an All-Star and danced with contestant Tucker Knox. It didn't really dawn on me at first, but this was the first time he was on the show again since his accident. What's amazing about this is that he accomplished what he said he would in his message. There are people that are not able to overcome an accident and resume doing what they love, even in such a short time, so the fact that he did is triumphant on its own.

This is the first time a lot of people saw him again after his ordeal and the dance, choreographed by Travis Wall, was pretty much dedicated to his experience, so therefore it was an emotional segment.

You can tell that he's been through a lot. His body isn't as broad as it once was (but has been growing) and he is more solemn, that's to be expected, but he still has his dancing talents and determination, and he's living his life to the fullest perhaps even more so now than before. But one thing is seriously bothering me about this...

He seems to have lost his smile, both physically and figuratively.

I'm not the only one who has noticed this, for I have seen comments written by other people seeing this as well. I actually kind of hate the fact that other people notice it because I normally notice stuff like that and others don't. The fact that others notice shows that the accident is a lot more obvious. When you look him up, his accident is the first topic that shows up, as if he is defined by it now and this is how he is remembered. He even refers to his accident as the day everything changed.

If you watched him on the show before, you would know that he was a total goofball and everybody knew that about him. During his season he even introduced himself as someone who always has a smile on his face. But since his accident, he seems to have done a total 180 and I'm concerned that he won't get back to the way he used to be. The right side of his face has been altered, suggesting that it was involved in the accident significantly and needed reconstructive surgery, so therefore his structure is now slightly different. Ever since this performance I've noticed that he hides that part of his face away from the camera in recent photos and videos. Either that or he's just not in as many. I think he might be self-conscious of his jaw, right eye, and the right side of his face in general. What scares me is what if he lost teeth in the accident? What if his face is permanently paralyzed on that side and he is physically unable to smile huge and make silly faces even if he wanted to? Every time I look at him now, whether it is an older or newer shot, I focus on that side of his face.

The old Robert often smiled widely and never shied away. His face was always full of expression and beautiful, his smile symmetrical with perfect teeth. Now he's more reserved with small (side) grins if anything.

Now granted his dance with Tucker isn't exactly the most jovial of routines, so I don't expect him to be all happy go lucky here. But even when he was on the show in the past dancing to serious numbers, he still seemed rather cheerful even though he understood the seriousness of the piece. He is still capable of being serious and pulling it together despite his silly personality. But I do understand that his solemnity is warranted because this routine in particular hits very close to home.

I often feel like, why did it have to happen to HIM? Why did this have to happen to the one guy on the show who was constantly laughing and smiling? I wish I could turn the clock back to before this happened.

I feel foolish because I know that it definitely could've been worse. I should be grateful that he is still alive, able to dance, etc., and I am, because if anything else happened instead the situation would've been way worse, but here I am crying about his smile. It breaks my heart to see him this way though because I feel like even though his life, abilities, and health survived the accident, his personality, his essence, I feel was lost in it. And this was part of what made me really admire him and now it's gone and we don't know if he will ever get back to the way he was.

Ever since his return to "SYTYCD" aired, I've been crying about this on and off, obsessed with the idea of him smiling again. I feel kind of embarrassed to admit this because I feel like I am crying about something that is minor. My inner feminist is also annoyed with myself because I am crying about a boy (a boy that doesn't know me, a boy with a girlfriend), something I always vow to never do but manage to do anyway. :P

This past summer was pretty rough for me. I graduated college and was struggling to find decent writing work, getting frustrated with myself and others. I also had issues with my weight gain, which didn't help matters. I could just be melodramatic, but this kind of stuff happening to me made me think negatively about how worthwhile my life is. I tried to keep myself busy tweeting about my summer TV shows and writing my screenplay, and even another play that I wrote in three days. But I still wallowed in self-ridicule because even though I was writing in my field, I still wasn't getting income. Then I saw Robert in this way and it basically topped off my already emotional summer.

But on the flip side, ever since I saw this episode with Robert I began to think about my own life more favorably. When I get angry about my life and think badly about myself, his face automatically jumps into my mind. This guy almost died and yet he's achieving accomplishments despite injury, so it made me reevaluate to appreciate my own life more. As he says in the video, "A second chance is like, the biggest gift."

He managed to go from being my crush to being one of my heroes. I'm crying again as I write this, lol.

I didn't realize what an impact Robert and his smile made on me. I just thought that as time went on since the show he lived his life and I lived mine, and that I enjoyed seeing his career progress updates.

So Robert, I don't know if you will ever read this, but if you do, please don't ever wipe that smile off of your face. It impacts too many people, myself included. Please don't be ashamed of your "battle scars" because you're beautiful inside and out and we all love you. Please try to get your old self back, because he's well missed. I'm proud of what you have accomplished thus far since your season and since your accident. I'm proud of you as well for gradually showing your full face to the camera again. DON'T STOP! KEEP GOING! :)

Since Robert's situation has been making me emotional, I didn't know how to shake these feelings and couldn't stop thinking about it. I went on a Robert photo and video spree, which made me feel happier to see again, yet sadder at the same time remembering what once was. I kept thinking about not only his face, but how traumatized, sad, and serious he appears since his accident. I feel bad for the guy for what he had to endure. I even talked to my friends about it, but it wasn't giving me the release I was looking for. They told me that he's fine, his dancing is all the recovery he needs, perhaps the accident matured him and gave him a newer perspective. These are good points, but a part of me disagrees and thinks that he isn't altogether fine and still needs to feel better in order to smile and act himself more again. It's like he's holding back. I'm actually hoping that one day his face will go back to normal, the way it was before the accident, but I realize that there is a good chance that won't happen.

I decided that the only way that I could finally unload all of my feelings was through my writing, so that's why I wrote this piece, which explains the lengthiness of it. There is more that I could've added to this, but I didn't want to bulk it up too much, so I decided to create a brand new "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" series dedicated to Robert called "Roberto Roldano Reminiscing". :) "Roberto Roldano" was a name he dubbed himself back during his own season when he danced the Argentine Tango with All-Star Anya Garnis, and I like the alliteration of the title.

This will be a cute small series that I will post every so often (maybe once a month) so I don't have to bombard you with my Robert fandom lol. It will be therapy for me out of support for him. :)

As time went on since I wrote this, I began to recover from my concern and sadness about it and not really cry as much about it. He began to not look that drastically different to me (I think I am getting used to it like he seems to have) and like I said, he seems happy and is enjoying his life, his personality getting more and more intact. He appears to be doing better. Earlier in September on the show, Robert returned as an All-Star once again and danced with finalist and eventual Season 10 female winner Amy Yakima. I was looking forward to seeing him dance again all week when I heard about it, but I was also concerned about it making me emotional all over again. 

Thankfully, in this episode Robert definitely looked more relaxed and happy. More himself. I feel like it's because he was already on the show since his accident and got his initial return from a long hiatus out of the way. It's normal for him to come back now and he's back in the groove of things. Plus, the routine this time didn't hit too close to home for him to have an emotional reaction. And then he posted this picture of himself on Instagram. It made me SOOO HAPPY and I shed happy tears. Even other people commented on the return of his smile, establishing again that people have noticed the change. This is the first Robert Roldan-like picture he had posted in a while, and it made my night. Since then he and others have been posting other fun photos of him and his progression makes me giddy every time. This shows that he is slowly but surely returning back to his old self! :D

And! And. He danced like THIS in the season finale, thus proving to me that his body is still capable of being quirky. Up until this point I thought that maybe his body was still in recovery and weaker so he couldn't move like this. NOT ANYMORE. There are also Instagram videos of him dancing to the NappyTabs "Run the World (Girls)" routine. HE'S BACK! :D (Gradually.)

I seriously think that his return to "So You Think You Can Dance" has helped all of this. 

And by the way, I have been getting more paying writing work lately. It's as if since he somewhat came back into my life and has been growing I've grown as well. :D 

Perhaps this accident propelled him, and he in turn propelled me, into the next successful stage of our lives. I also attribute some of his new lack of goofiness to his maturity with age.

All in all, at the end of the day, he could've passed away and been gone forever, and that would've been devastating. I am thrilled that he is still with us here on Earth and continues to grace us with his beautiful dancing presence. God is certainly not finished with him and definitely has more planned for him.