That kid at the end of the table, the one that doesn't say much? It 's his birthday today. Of course you all know him now by several other epithets. Foo, Dan, Waela, maybe even Mister Caven. It depends a lot on your proximity, I suspect. I've been half a continent away for part of our lives, and sat on top of him for other more intimate gatherings. I suppose the fact that he lives about twenty-five minutes away at this point about averages out that equation.
He's out there right now. I can feel him reading this, or so I like to believe. He is the person who has told me straight up that he tends to skim over whatever it is I have to say, but reads with great interest when he sees himself reflected in the words here on this page. It's that kind of honesty that makes me appreciate him all the more as a reader. Sometimes it almost makes me feel bad about all those times I used him for traction as I raced to dinner up the stairs at my parents' house. Almost.
He's describing a syndrome I know very well. When spinning tales around the living room in our youth, we used to try and force our parents to tell us stories about "the olden days." We would sit still for tales of their youth, but what we were really after were the fables generated from our own misspent youth. It gave us a sense of belonging to that bigger fabric of our family. We were part of the continuum.
To that end, I will always mark my younger brother's birthday with the anniversary of the day which we moved into our new house, now fifteen years ago. That mild proximity we happen to share worked in our favor as my wife and I called him across the bay to help us lift and carry everything we owned. And he came willingly. With a smile on his face, he moved lamps and furniture and boxes and appliances up the stairs and through our new front door. That smile was still there when we finished. As payment, we gave him first pick of the pizza we bought for the rest of our helpers. At the very least, he deserved his very own pie.
And now, a decade and a half later, I still wince in anticipation of the day when he decides to move to his own palatial estate. Up a couple flights of stairs.
Happy Birthday, Dan.