My excuse for not writing you a long-winded love letter on the one day a year I am allowed to write you long-winded love letters is that I am celebrating your birthday by sharing a 300 square foot hotel room in San Francisco with your godchildren and my friends 7 year old son who nose is, as we speak, bleeding like a stuck pig. Or me in two weeks. Either his nose is fertile as the Tennessee Valley or is about to get roasted and served with creamed corn. Time will tell.
Shockingly enough, not one of your godchildren screamed, Cool! BLOOD! and whipped out a camera. They're losing their edge with this whole puberty thing, man. It is to weep.
The actual reason that I didn't write you long winded love letter on the one day a year I am allowed to write you long winded love letters is that I don't think I can. See, the thing is...for as long as I've known you, you've always been mine. Sure, you've had a girlfriend here or there and there was even that one girl we were all afraid you were going to knock up or worse, share a line of credit with, but I've always known that at the end of the day, next to your mom and your sister, I'm it. I'm the one who bakes you the pies and mails you the practical presents and fields the phone calls. I'm the first one who knows when you're getting a new job. I'm the one who your dog tries to talk to when she hears me through the phone. I'm the one who's kids take up that slot in your wallet. You've had my heart from the moment I met you on that stupid stoop and I am fairly sure I've had yours. At least, that's what I like to assume, "Can you make another coconut cream pie next time you come over to walk my dog?" means in man-speak.
A few weeks ago I had to sit on the phone and decide in the matter of a few seconds if I was willing to give that all up, and I decided I was, but the truth is that I'm not sure I am. You've gone and grown up and fell in love and are getting married and I am not ready.
I just got you. I waited so long for you, for your family, for everything you've taught me and everything you've pushed me into doing and becoming, and I don't know how to let you go. I don't know how to have a different relationship than I do now with you. I don't have the luxury of writing this off to being your sister or your cousin or your childhood best friend, leaving me with no place to go except into the "chic who's a little too cozy with my fiance" column. I can hardly explain our relationship to myself; I have no idea how to make it work on paper for your wife.
And so have two choices. I can be pig-headed and stubborn and stomp my foot into the floor and say I Had Him First and piss, oh, everyone off or I can be as happy for you as I am inside on the outside, too, I can take a few big steps to the side and I can let you have your happiness. I can do for you what you've always done for me. That ain't no kind of choice at all.
I owe you that kindness, at the bare minimum. I owe you so much, I can't see the end of that ledger anymore. You, sir, you were the greatness that was thrust upon me. You believed in me all this time, even when I was at my peak of unbelievabilty. You've been cruel a lot more than you've been kind, for exactly that purpose. You've never been content with just me, and I've scarcely cared about someone enough to try to fix that. You've always told me that I could be better, and I've kept trying to be just to show your pain in the ass, pushy, bitch-ass up. You've given me the tools to believe in who I am and you've given me the inspiration to want to be that person and you've given me the very real, practical, not at all story-book kind of love that actually can move a mountain, even if that mountain is self-doubt topped with fear and covered in a fresh dusting of insecurity.
You've never let me use me and an excuse to not be me. You've never let me use any excuse at all for much of anything, really. I've hated you, really hated you in the pit of my soul for that, but I think you know that and I think you'd do it again anyway.
I think we make each other comfortably uncomfortable, in that we can criticize the shit out of each other, we can offer unsolicited advice and we can lecture and roll our eyes and it's always okay, because we know undoubtedly that we really, truly love each other and we only do what we do because we see something the other one can't yet.
We, you and me, us...we're good. We're wonderful. We've fallen into place the way you can only hope the really important things in your life will. We have a rhythm, a stride, a beat we march to that few people understand but enough of the people who matter to us the most understand. Maybe boys and girls can't be friends, but we are. We are the best of friends and we are great at it. We love moderately. We are close from a distance.
And a few weeks ago, you had to go and fuck it all up by being happy and content and settled down and shit. The little boy that I met so many years ago, the one I've watched you cling to and push away at the same time, he's gone. He was gone the day he met a different woman on a different stoop who brought something very different to his table, and she's going to be his wife pretty soon now.
I don't want to let that boy go. I love the man you've become, the man I saw in the shadows 6 years ago when I first met you; I admire you and I respect you and I absolutely adore you but I am going to miss him. In order to let you be you I have to give up a part of me and I'll do it, I'll give you back your house key and I'll relinquish my spot at your family's Christmas dinner table and it will be fine, because it's right, but it will hurt for a while as all truly great things do.
And until it stops, I probably shouldn't try to write you long winded love letters on your birthday, now should I? So I think it's best if I don't.