(if you got this email multiple times, technology blows)
Ian is pretty easygoing about my jokes and bits but the one he absolutely loses it at is when he makes a reference to Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and I purposely misunderstand one key fact about the movie.
“Harry?” I say. “You mean the gorilla?”
Ian scowls and reminds me for the thousandth time that Harry is a sasquatch and not a gorilla but for some reason, this is the one that really gets his goat—I live for it as the person in our relationship who tends to have my goat gotten.
Ian was 30 when I met him which felt very adult to me at the time being just almost 25 myself. Now of course a decade has passed and at almost 35, I know that 30 didn’t feel very adult at all. Ian is 40 and I can believe it while also being completely baffled by time. Ian looks like himself in his baby photos, almost grumpy but mostly a very Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon movies vibe: “I’m too old for this shit.” And he kind of was? Kind of is, really. But I think that’s what’s so special about him: he’s always been so assuredly him, so comfortable in the things he likes and wants, the way we all seem to eventually get better at but he’s just been there for so long. It’s incredible.
Recently Ian got me a bag of ice for my tie dye when we were making a DoorDash order for snacks; or he thought he did. When we got our order, there wasn’t ice anywhere to be found. We dug through the bag and finally found a single firework labelled “ICE FOUNTAIN” and realized what had happened. Ian felt so bad about his mistake but honestly it’s so funny and perfect. I’m going to light the firework in honor of his 40th birthday.
Ian is my favorite person to go to sleep with even if deep down, I really prefer to sleep alone like a starfish. We hardly ever fall asleep right away as we talk about our days or something we read or just any random thing. More times than not, we somehow get into a really long conversation where we laugh so hard about something ridiculous but we also get deep in the weeds about something so entirely random, one or both of us pulling up references and Wikipedia on our phones. Recent topics: the career trajectory of U2 and that time they put their album on everyone’s iTunes (Ian: “Not mine, this is why I never give iTunes control of my music!!”), what we would do in the event of water wars, and a double themed conversation about the plot of the movie Jack (1996) and also just time travel movies. It turns out I have a photographic memory when it comes to the Back to the Future series.
Ian always wants to order shawarma and sushi more than I do. Ian doesn’t like creamy eggs and don’t even ask him about a French omelet. Ian hates chopping onions so I always do it for him because I like it. Ian rides his stationary bike every day and loudly comments on whatever he’s reading at the time. Ian likes to read the physical copy of the New Yorker but he’s weeks behind; I prefer reading online but I’m months behind. Ian loves vacuuming. Ian always brings a treat or surprise home when he goes grocery shopping. Ian never lets me talk down about myself or my work or my art or anything I do. Ian always gives me a kiss on the forehead when he walks past me in the living room. Ian hasn’t watched The Sopranos but I honestly feel like his 40s are going to be the perfect time for it.
Ian has taught me the equivalent of a masters degree in philosophy over our decade together. Ian is exactly the kind of person who can make you love philosophy and most anything he is interested in. Except that potion seller video, nothing is going to make me like that so let it go if you want to see 41, Ian. Ian’s favorite chips are Old Dutch BBQ but he actually liked the Hostess BBQ better when he was a kid but they stopped making those so Old Dutch it is. Ian loves capybaras and bears which you probably know if you know him even a little bit. Just this week, Ian misheard me say “won’t you take me to funky town” as “won’t you take me to monkey town” and I wish I could bottle the expression on his face as he turned over the idea of “monkey town” in his head.
Ian is a wonderful writer. Ian is a wonderful friend, son, brother, uncle, colleague, internet mutual, partner, and human. Ian is a wonderful mix maker, thoughtful and always thinking about the subject and recipient of the mix—what would they like, what would they be into, what seems like them? You know how I know this? Because this is how Ian made and makes me mixes and this is how almost everyone I’ve talked to in the past six weeks when it comes to this milestone birthday have described him as well. Ian is so liked and loved which isn’t surprising if you know him but is astounding when you consider how many people have said this about him: it’s so many. Ian inspires love, admiration, loyalty, gentleness, fun, and respect in the people who know him; I’m so proud that I get to be with this person who radiates kindness and goodness.
Now to the gift.
Ian has made me countless mixes and he’s made so many for others. I couldn’t imagine a better gift for a writer, a music writer at that, a curious student and lover of art, than a collaborative mix by the people who know him, have known him. Ten hours of songs from memories with Ian, songs he does love, songs he will love, songs written about him, songs that are silly and fun and heartbreaking and wise—each one from someone who knows just how special Ian is. I’m not surprised that it’s not just me who knows.
Happy birthday my love. You are so much to so many of us; you’re everything to me.