You said I could use this picture. It’s from Saturday night. I took you out for dinner downtown. It was a trendy new joint called the Vinatta Project and the food was delicious (particularly the bacon-wrapped dates and the chestnut gnocci), but the restaurant was pretty much empty. We sat there at our little wobbly table for two, holding hands, giggling at the fact that the place would probably pack up around three hours later, that no one cool ate dinner as early as we were eating. We decided, and swiftly, that we didn’t care. After crustless cheesecake, we left. On our way out, we saw that there was a DJ booth, another little something that made us fogies smile. And out front, before we hailed a cab to go home, I asked you to sit on the little bench near the lit-up snowman and you were a bit embarrassed by all this, but you did it. And here you are.
Yesterday you turned 37. And I can’t quite decide whether that’s young or old or medium as our girls would say. It really doesn’t matter, does it? What matters is that we are here. At this point in our lives, at this point in our story. Here and happy.
Yesterday, we went out for a special breakfast and it was chaos of course, but of the good kind, a swirl of syrup and salt shakers and spills and chocolate chip pancakes and poop jokes and laughter. And then we let the girls run around a bit and they found those big old “butt statues” in the lobby of Time Warner and they could not get over how funny all of this was. You and I stood back and glimpsed their glee and honestly all I could think was that thing I say all the time, filling the nooks and crannies of our good and busy days: I love you.
At the little Christmas fair, we let each girl pick a new ornament. And soon we were clutching a new panda, a new “meow-meow,” and a new turtle. Feeling ambitious, we head for the subway to go meet Santa. Only in NYC, would that sentence make sense. At ABC Carpet, the line was wrapped around the corner and a tired man said two hours at least and our girls were shockingly reasonable about the fact that we would not wait, but head home. At home, we played games and you and the girls made birthday brownies which I later stuck a big One candle in because it’s all we had and I explained that it’s because you are the #1 Daddy in the world. And, really, you are.
I love you.
I think these words and say them because they are the right ones and I mean them and more than ever. On Friday night, we sat together on our same sea green couch, and we cried. I am sorry if this embarrasses you, but we did. Our eyes filled with tears as we watched the television coverage of the tragedy in Connecticut. We held hands, much tighter than normal, as Obama got choked up. All of this made sense because we are parents, parents to young and innocent creatures whom we love with all of our being. All of this made sense because we are people, people in a world that is brilliant at times and absolutely wretched at times. All of this made sense.
What I want you to know on this day, this day-after-your-birthday, is that I feel wildly lucky to have you by my side. Looking back, it all seems so cinematic and surreal that I walked into that bar late at night with friends and you were there. Tuesday will be our eighth wedding anniversary and this is downright unbelievable to me that it has been eight full years since I wore that big princess dress with the doves on the back and Dad walked me down that candlelit aisle of Holy Trinity toward you, since we looked each other in the eyes and said words that mean one thing, the thing we utter every night before falling asleep: Forever.
Yesterday, as you know, also happened to be the eleven-month mark. Eleven months since I gave up alcohol. Looking back, I did this thing for me, yes, but also for you. It amazes me how patient you were with me when I was patently struggling, how you tucked me in when when I’d had too much, how you woke up with me in the night when I was the portrait of panic. You sat with me too many weekend mornings as I felt awful and berated myself for overdoing it. You listened. Never once did you get angry or lecture me. You listened. You loved me. You waited. You waited for me to decide that it was time, finally time, to stop doing what I was doing. And finally I did. I decided.
And when I decided, you were right there, ready to support me. Do you remember the night before I gave it up? We sipped good tequila on the white couch in our yellow living room. It was plain in your eyes that you were excited, for this next phase, for this next me. And what is crazy to me is that you believed I could do it and I would do it even when I’m not sure I did. You had the utmost faith and that meant, and continues to mean, everything. Everything.
And here we are. In this morning, this moment, this month, this time of our life. We continue to muddle in a privileged exhaustion, in striving, in trying. Our girls are young and demand so much of us. But what I love is that even though we are tired and tried, we have always made time for us. I cherish our evenings on the couch and our dinners out. I celebrate our conversations, even, especially, the harder ones. The bottom line, the beautiful line, is that we have each other.
37. Not young, not old. Totally, wonderfully, medium. I cannot wait to walk the next 37+ with you. And thanks for posing by the snowman. Oh, and I snapped this one below last night. You are cradling our white cat to whom you are quite allergic, clutching that beer. So so perfect somehow.