Tuesday, January 10, 2006

happy birthday, babycakes

In my favorite Joni Mitchell song “A Case of You,” which you introduced me to, a lover says to her: I am as constant as the northern star. And she sings: Constantly in the darkness—where’s that at?

For years, until this year, actually, I misheard the lyric as: constant in the darkness.

That is what you have been to me, constant in the darkness that is my life, that is the world, that is our lives together. No matter what, you have been there, you are there, shinning.

I first met you in elementary school. That was the year cheap, glittery, rubber balls were popular on the playground. We tried to bounce them onto the roof. I remember you had a lot of balls.

We became friends in high school, in chemistry class, where we both received C’s—possibly in part because we were talking to each other. You were the artist, that was how you first stood out to me—always were, and always are. You won awards, you painted the mural in the hallway. You asked me to the prom, but I was in a play. My mother not-so secretly hoped we would date. You came out to me in a car at the reservoir.

In college, you wrote me letters almost daily with envelopes you had made by hand. You started writing music, and playing the guitar. You fell in love, you fell out of love. Your first apartment—and every apartment since—was a home to me, bright and colorful, lovely and warm. You hand made Christmas presents. You spun a mixed CD for every occasion. October was an occasion. Your friends, which are perhaps the best indicator of a kind of person, were inspiring, artists and teachers. You knew when to be silent, knew when to take the long way home. When did the most reassuring thing in the world to me become riding beside you at night in the car?

You were the one I called when my heart was broken the first time. And the second. And the third. You answer. You come. You still believe. Despite what the world keeps throwing, you still believe in the goodness and power of our lives, in the ability of art to make sense of madness and sorrow. And I believe the spark in you is getting stronger.

It’s difficult to keep a friendship going for more than a decade, as we’re learning. We change, but our friendship has changed along with it, and though we’re on opposite ends of the country now, and though you have met the love of your life, and though you are struggling with the future and with the red tape of living in this world, you are constant in the darkness. You make the darkness a little less dark.

Happy 28th birthday. I am so grateful for you.

Reader: If you would like to see more pictures of Brad looking cute, and me looking drunk and/or dumb, check out my flickrstream of photographs. Check out his blog. And if you are in or near Columbus, OH, buy the man a drink.