1) He doesn't remember the very first time we met...at a high school football game one cold Autumn night when the leaves had curled up around themselves and surrendered to their fate on old Monkey Hill. But, I do.
2) I don't remember the second time we met...at a friend's party when her parents were out of town, and we were all so young-young-young. But, he does.
3) There were no more meetings, we spiraled along mutual circles of friends. He was the boy we called to "kick the keg" for us in college. He was known by everyone to be incredibly kindhearted...
4) He had long blonde hair in a curly ponytail all the girls wanted for their own. Hair completely wasted on a guy (especially one) in a tie-dye T-shirt, jeans, and his Birkenstock sandals.
5) He asked me to borrow a book of poetry I'd been rambling about at a party. I jumped up, pulled Jim Morrison's Wilderness from my bookshelf...and our conversations (along with our friendship) deepened.
6) He has incredible sea-glass blue eyes I noticed immediately. (Once, they were hidden beneath large frame glasses).
7) He had Lasik last year, and now people comment on them often.
8) Sometimes, he kisses with them open because he "likes to look at me".
9) He has a tattoo on his left shoulder of celestial rings, a mountain, a moon, a sun.
10) He has a wild sense of humor and laughs with his whole heart.
11) He loves boats, reads passionately about travel--the ocean--and maritime history.
12) Unlike me, he retains absolutely everything he reads...a walking encyclopedia. People at work tease him for knowing so many obscure facts...and recently, his brother called him to resolve a debate about leaf-cutter ants. He gave the answer, more scientific facts, and hung up without even asking why he needed to know.
13) His I.Q. tested well above "above-average".
14) Our daughter wrote a story in second grade where she said, "My Daddy teaches me about science and the world. He knows everything."
15) He is often under-estimated...and has been his whole life.
16) He surprised me with a trip to Mexico for Christmas the year before last. Mexico surprised him by having a "rare for the resort area" sea turtle swim up to him when he was snorkeling. He followed it for many silent, underwater moments--its dappled shell gleaming in the filtered light. He re-surfaced, smiling.
17) He says, "life is full of surprises."
18) He has worked, in one job or another, since he was just twelve years old.
19) He can build anything, tile anything, and create something out of nothing with just his own two hands.
20) As I type these words, struggling to craft a gift of thought for him on his birthday--he is mixing mortar in an oversized, white bucket...and imprinting beauty on our bare bathroom walls.
21) He loves music.
22) No, he really loves music.
23) When I was too heavily pregnant with our firstborn to reach my arms around it, I gave him my guitar.
24) Lately, he has been playing a lot again...his music rings through the house with its honeyed voice and I hear something of where we first started from together, he and I.
25) He discovers amazing new musicians and their songs become the soundtrack of our family's life...but, I still like to point out that I am the one who found Iron & Wine--right when we really needed to.
26) There is no other father like him in this whole world. I will say that again and again and again...my mantra.
27) He has been a completely dedicated partner...in our decade together, he has done most of the laundry (though I'm catching up), changed just as many diapers, vacuumed a fair amount of floors, and cooked almost ALL of our meals.
28) When our baby wakes in the night, afraid of the shadows stalking behind the rocking chair and the monster who persists in "biting her little toe"...his is the name she calls out in her bold desperation. Not mine.
29) He is the greatest patron of my arts. Without him, not a word of my novel would have ever been written...neither would the essays, articles, letters, poems, reviews, or blog entries. He believes in me when I don't believe in myself...believes in my words when they've gone cold in my head and as lifeless as old cemetery stones...
30) When I got the chance to go to follow my dream to New Mexico to study with a beloved teacher--he pushed for me, pulled for me, paid for me, moved mountains for me, drove me to the airport, and kissed me goodbye.
31) He loves me. All of me. When I was sick with post-partum depression after our last baby, he held me aloft--fought hard to get me well--and (temporarily) lost a small patch of his hair from the stress. It was in the perfect shape of a heart.
32) He is thirty-two-years-old today. I want so many things for him in the next thirty-two...adventures, travel, success, joy, our children's comfortable laughter echoing in his ears, our songs, the horizon his to claim...the moon. But, really, I just want to come along for the ride.
If I know one thing about him...it's that he'll let me.