Happy birthday

Dear Matt,

Saturday is your birthday.  It’s a big one.  50.  We didn’t know we’d be spending it in quarantine, but here we are.  One thing we’ve established is you love data, so a few numbers:

We met when you were 27.  That means that we’ve known each other almost half of your life.  More than half of mine.  We have celebrated your 30th, your 40th, and now your 50th together.  Also, the years in between :).  In our almost 20 years of marriage (9/9, baby, another celebration that likely will be a little more home-bound than we anticipated) I feel confident saying we have not spent as much time together as we have in the last 2.5 months.  I don’t mean in a 2.5 month period.  I mean AT ALL.

It has been a lot.  It’s been occasionally totally heinous.  And it’s been often really wonderful.

I thought I’d just write down some reflections and memories of this time, which are already turning into a brightly colored slurry in my mind.

We go for morning walks a lot, earlier and earlier as I return to my crack-of-dawn wake-up time (I went through about 6 weeks of sleeping until 7/730 which was frankly heavenly but I think my body is now well and fully rested and I get up at 4 or 5 something most days).  You, I now know, wake up at 5 something no matter what.  You are just an early bird.  And you’re wiped out by 9:30 or 10:00 most nights.  We also walk most nights after dinner.  It’s a mark of how long this has been going on that just last night I realized early in quarantine our after-dinner walks were in the dark.  Now they’re in full sunshine.  I need sunglasses.  We admire the turkeys and the bird song and the calls of geese (more in March and April than now) remind you of growing up in Vermont.  Whit asked me last night if I was going to continue my “avid walking” once quarantine wound down and I admit I sort of hope so.  It’s nice to get out.  It’s also not going to be long til we are home alone (the empty next is certainly on the horizon) and walking is a nice thing to do together that we both enjoy.

You are really good at cards.  When we play family Hearts you inevitably shoot the moon at least once and almost always do it successfully.  You also dominated our first family Monopoly game, though as you know I think that one is more about luck than skill.

You have returned with gusto to running, which I love seeing.  You take great joy from morning runs along the river and it makes me happy to see that.  Bravo.

You can be a dog with a bone when you have a point in mind, returning again and again to talking about it.  But I admire your willingness to listen to points of view other than your own, and have always appreciated your interest in an open conversation and debate.  This reminds me of my father.  In this pandemic your propensity for the data behind a situation has come to the fore and I have learned so much from you.  Digging into the details of a situation is a way to understand it, often to demystify it, and you insist, always, that perspectives be backed with data and not merely emotion.  I love that about you.

You have started reading Russian literature.  This one I didn’t foresee, honestly.  You read The Master and Margarita and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.  You’re now reading Crime and Punishment.  Your reading list puts mine (heavy on Grisham and Baldacci) to shame these days.

Your favorite joke, when you are late to a zoom, is “I’m sorry!  My plane landed late.”  Was funny the first time I heard it through our thin walls.  The tenth time, still funny but … less so.  Once again: we are spending a LOT of time together.  We have lunch together most days, dinner together always, and I can hear you in your “office” (the family room, where you’ve set up a card table with a nice view out the window) from mine.  It. Is. A. Lot. Of. Time. Together.

The beard.  I’ll just leave that here.

You zoom with your mother in Florida and walk with mine in Cambridge and I have never felt more fully that we are family.  Our fathers are both animate in our lives, and we talk about them and remember them often. The experience of going through the fall of 2017 together has bound us in ways I’m still understanding. I feel the sturdiness of our family underneath me and around me and while it occasionally makes me want to scream it is mostly a source of support and comfort.  Thank you.

I’ve always admired and esteemed your bond with our children, and that’s only more true these days.  Whit cuts your hair and you guys call each other “homeslice.”  You and Grace have a close relationship and I hope you’ll go running together soon.  As has always been true, in our family teasing = love, but we laugh together and often.  I hope we never stop.

I love you,


PS all photos from quarantine

5 thoughts on “Happy birthday”

  1. Happy Birthday to your husband! I always admire your letters to him. This one in particular, because it reminds me of my own husband, who turned 50 last month. The beard! The running! Data! Our tenth anniversary is this summer and yes, we thought it’d be different.
    I love that Whit cuts his hair, and how teasing = love. It’s the best!
    I hope you will have a wonderful celebration.

  2. The beard— yep, my husband too. We’ve been married for 21 years, and he was clean-shaven until now. I laughed so hard when I saw that paragraph. We actually now have beard grooming supplies in our house, ?!!!!

  3. So do we! Truth is Matt started growing this around Christmas 2019 so it’s not a covid beard, but it’s definitely getting bushier!

  4. What a lovely tribute! Also, I didn’t get the beard thing for a long time, but I realized it’s because I’m able to use an electric razor. One time, I went on business trip, but forgot to bring one, and had to use a traditional razor.

    Shaving sucks! No wonder men try to avoid it!

    Since then, I’ve had a lot more sympathy for the naturally hirsute.

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