Sam Gimbel

Tech, Beer, and Strange Thoughts.

It's Your Birthday

Taylor,

Happy birthday! It may be a Monday, but as far as birthdays go this is a big one, and I hope it’s as enjoyable as a Monday Birthday can be.

Turning 29 is a great excuse to look back on how we got here, the paths we took or didn’t take, and the ways we’ve grown from our former selves into the people we are today. There are a few moments in particular that I want to recall:

6/13/2010

A summer day, hot but not brutal. Sun shining, air abuzz with that constant post-graduation energy we all felt until sometime after turning 25. Aparna told me to meet her at Yankee Stadium at 5PM so I left early from New Rochelle, changed my shirt, and got off the subway at 138th street to smoke a cigarette.

I remember being frustrated that she was late and not answering her phone. And then I remember thinking about how I was meeting a girl who I’d never met before and only seen in one picture. In it you were smiling, probably drunk, and carefree. Your shirt was hanging off one shoulder, revealing cute freckles and a thin arm that I had yet to learn was a new gift to yourself after a lifetime of being overweight. In short, you were hot. And I was interested. Very. Interested.

So naturally I was worried I’d screw up the whole thing, and in typical Sam fashion I decided the answer was to take drastic action: I was going to stop smoking forever. I flicked my cigarette to the curb, gave my pack to a skinny blonde kid who was absolutely under-age, and decided I’d be my best self for you. I was nervous because of how cute you were and I had no idea just how silly that was. You didn’t know it at the time, but I was incredibly anxious about meeting someone new.

The sun was setting over the new Yankee stadium when you finally did arrive. I saw Ellen first, then Aparna, then someone tall, with dark-hair and wearing tight pants and heels. She was caught between direct sunshine and my own eyes and thrown into silhouette as if in a movie. She was gorgeous, and she was laughing. I remember thinking, “That must be her.” before Aparna pulled me away. Not bad as far as first impressions go.

Do you know that feeling you have when the anxiety melts away and you’re just able to enjoy whatever moment you may be in the midst of? How sometimes life feels like sinking into a soft blanket and enveloped in the joy and hope of a future? It’s rare, so I don’t blame you if you forget sometimes, but I can tell when you feel that way - it’s written on your face.

The night I met you, moments after sitting down next to you on the upper deck and making a dumb comment about the position of the foul pole, I felt that feeling. And I could tell you did too. And it didn’t stop. Not when we left the stadium, or when we left Reggaeton Night at Beauty Bar, or when we took separate cabs home as the sun rose over the riveted iron mass of the elevated L in Bushwick. Not even now, as I think about you and how far we’ve come.

9/15/2011

Move-in day. It was fucking brutal. We yelled. Well, I yelled. You mostly tried to move your noodles as quickly as you could to keep from dropping things. We should have hired movers, but we couldn’t afford to.

I remember knowing I was being an asshole to you, and knowing you didn’t deserve it. And in the back of my head the smart, trapped, nice, kind Sam kept banging on the door to be let out. He knew you shouldn’t be taken for granted - not a woman as strong, smart, and kind as you. Not a woman who I had come to love with my whole heart, both the healthy piece and the rotten awful anxious piece. Not the woman I had decided I could live with for at least the next year. It would, of course, turn out to be four. And counting. Wow.

This was the moment when I realized how hard relationships are. How even when you want the same things, love each other, have great sex and big plans for the future, you can still fuck things up so those things disappear. This was the moment I learned that you were worth all the pain we would go through in the next few years. It was the moment that I realized your strength and your ability to take things as they come. It was, although difficult and frustrating and upsetting at times, the moment I committed to you.

It was a commitment I felt as an unspoken contract, two-way and very real.

4/25/2015

Crystal clear waters, no wifi, and no distractions. Just you, me, and the promise of some adorable pigs. Also, that lobster. Wow. We had never been away together, you had just started a new job, and I was in between. So, obviously we went to the Bahamas and did nothing for 10 days.

What a glorious nothing. Evenings playing rummy with you, even the silliness of getting mad over who was winning or who wasn’t, even the ridiculousness of the air conditioner breaking on the 7th day. It was all glorious, all perfect, sublime in the unrestrained way vacations tend to be. We didn’t force ourselves to perform, didn’t over-burden ourselves, and in so doing we became that much closer.

The crystal clear waters ate up all the stress of our former lives, and we made new identities in the sand and with the hour-long sunsets and with the gospel music on the one radio station in our ridiculously unsafe Ford Taurus. We found each other in the rubble of the taut over-stimulated routines we left behind. And through it all, from beginnings at Yankee Stadium to whatever glorious middle this is today, I’ve loved you.

I’ll always love you. There’s nothing more true than that statement. And at some point, my own ego has to get out of the way. So keep reading, because this is about to get real.

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3/14/2016

Happy Birthday. You’re 29. You’re getting a kitten.

Seriously.

No, seriously.

Meet me at Petco after work today for the first phase of our search. We’ll take as long as you want to pick out the right kitten. I’m doing it this way so we can make Shadow happy, and so you get to pick a cat out the same way you got to pick out Annie as a kid. Happy birthday, Hoch. I love you :).

Some adoption agencies I found. Let me know which ones I should make appointments with:

http://ny-petrescue.org/index.php
http://awos.petfinder.com/shelters/NY765.html
http://www.citycritters.org/
http://socialteesnyc.org/
http://www.emptycagescollective.org/