Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Daniel of my Heart

Dearest Daniel,

I've been thinking about your 30th birthday a lot this week. The memories I have with you are some of the sweetest I possess. Selfishly, I want to indulge in a few of those in honor of your big day. This will be a bit of stream of consciousness- I want to put down in writing the memories as they come. It may not be a conventional way of doing it, but I don't feel like our friendship is conventional.
Here are 7 of the approximately 50 pictures we decided to take of ourselves one evening 7 years ago. We were babies. Well, you were. We thought we were soooo hot. We probably pretended like it was a joke, but really, we were trying to look dead sexy in those "serious" shots. I think we succeeded, don't you? 

How do you put in to words a unique, bizarre, and perfect friendship like ours? It had such a hilarious beginning. You invited me over for dinner- when I got there, you prepared salads. I wondered, "Who the heck invites someone over for dinner and then makes salads as the main course?!" You do. And I love that about you.

I remember when I figured out that almost all your friends call you Dan and I only ever knew you as Daniel. I was so mad. I felt like that meant we weren't real friends.

I was "so mad" a lot, wasn't I? And you would just laugh at me, with that eruption of laughter that is so entirely yours and always had the power to bring me back to life. It still does.

I vividly remember sitting in your car with our seats reclined in the parking lot of Millrace, just looking at the stars and talking. I remember that one time we belted, "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge at the top of our lungs.  Okay, fine, so maybe that was on a regular basis.

I've always counted on you to give it to me straight. As an old maid in my late 20's, my frequent complaints of, "I'm never going to get married" yielded responses from you such as, "Yeah, you're right. That may never happen. But that's okay." That was never the answer that I wanted, but it was the answer I needed. It was oddly comforting. It reminded me to get over it and be grateful for everything I had.

One time for one of my choir concerts, I was insanely stressed. I asked you to go buy me some makeup because I accidentally left mine at home and didn't have time to go get it. I still use that lipstick.

As I've grown older, many people have come and gone from my life. I remember when I first moved to Salt Lake. Whenever life pushed me to my personal limits and I knew I couldn't deal with it alone, my natural instinct was to call my mom and to call Daniel. All of my jumbled and irrational words and feelings are safe with you. "It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone and I need you now...."

I have always hated and adored your free spirit. I never know how long you're going to stay when we we get together. At any given (random) moment, it becomes time for you to leave. "Well, I'm going to take off now." But I know you will always come back.  I can always count on your unpredictability. If you've been someplace for too long, I start wondering what adventure is around the next corner.

Park City- you are the only person I know who insists on paying for ME when we are going out for YOUR birthday.  You always make up some lame excuse for why it's justified that you are paying for my dinner.  My memory is foggy- I hope I always won that battle, but I'm willing to bet the farm that I didn't.

 We used to walk together up and around the Provo temple all the time when we both lived in Millrace. During these walks, I was always 100% Katie Houston with absolutely no pretense or shame.  I spoke more openly than perhaps ever before.  That was one of the greatest gift you gave me. You helped me appreciate who I was.  With you, I was funny because you laughed at me a lot.  My life had direction because you constantly pointed out the merits of everything I was doing.  I felt like I was someone worth getting to know because you sought to get to know me.

Your passion for physical fitness and eating healthy inspires me, when it isn't bugging me because it's making me feel guilty.  Your fondness for your nieces and nephews (remember the Dorothy shoes?) touches my heart.  You always show interest in the lives of my family members, like inquiring after my sister's pregnancy status on a regular basis.  Your love for Luca Lily is perhaps one of the most darling things I've ever witnessed.   Her two sets of pearls...

When I first moved in to my new house, I got the stomach flu. I was so sick and so alone. I didn't know many people in my ward or neighborhood yet. There was no one I felt like I could ask to bring Popsicles and soup to someone highly contagious with a nasty bug.  Except for you. I knew you would you would never see it as a burden. I knew I could let you see me at my worst. You are one of the most service-oriented people I know. 

I have tried and tried to come up with some way to thank you for the garden.  I've written a few sentences, and then deleted them, putting it off until I could find something more powerful to say.  I wanted to pay tribute to you for it somehow, and let everyone know that angels walk among us on this earth. But I think it's always going to remain a sacred experience in my life that is too sweet to defile with the mortal tongue.  It was what I needed when I needed it and how I needed it.  It was a game changer for me.  I will never forget it.

In your 30 years of life, you have filled the world to overflowing with goodness and light.  You have an incredibly beautiful spirit.  Everyone who knows you is better because they do.  To quote an inspiring boy band, "God must have spent a little more time on you." I totally shouldn't end this tribute with an N*Sync lyric, but I'm totally going to.