Author's note: While I do intend to send (give) this letter to C as we celebrate his birthday this weekend, I have not yet done so. So if you happen to read it then see him, he may not have read it yet. Grazie for your attention to that small detail!
A very wise (yet extraordinarily young) person once told me, "The secret's in the sauce." Over. And over. And over again. (And then some more, in case I might have forgotten.)
Despite the number of times I heard this mantra over the past seven years -- or has it been eight? -- I never argued with his theory, but I admittedly always internally pondered if perhaps the secret wasn't in the meat itself, or how it was cooked, or in its seasoning. Or who knew? Maybe the secret was really in how hungry the diners were, or even in the love and effort it took for the chef to prepare the meal itself. (There is value in that, you know.)
In due time, I began to sense that though this guy may not be aware of it, he was applying his theory to many more rooms in life than just his kitchen. And since he was and is in my life, his theory about the sauce's secret has affected me as well.
I can't quite pinpoint when it started, but sometime between the fall of 1999 and the fall of 2007, I have gradually come to discern that yes, the base of a thing itself is important -- quality, consistency, quality, durability, quality, afforadibility, quality, accessibility, quality ;-) -- but there is definitely something special about that extra oomph when it's added to just about anything, including (but not limited to):
jokes (can we say delivery and timing?)
injuries (not that I had any of those during the nLife...)
opening pains of new chapters
closing pains of old chapters
miles of separation between us
new friends coming in
old friends going out
inadvertently erasing vacation memories from a camera and sobbing on the plane ride back
You see, the wise (young) man is my boyfriend, but before he was my boyfriend, he was my best friend. And truth be known, I was a little scared a couple of years ago when the infamous "C" and I first transitioned from friends to dating, because how could I be sure that the laid back, relaxed fun we could always count on would still be there? Work would be involved with a real, defined relationship. Scheduled time together. And most frightening of all, what if I became his obligation rather than his choice...and vice versa. And the list went on and on.
But rather than cracking the boyfriend whip and keeping me on my very frightened toes, this funny, intelligent, incredibly hardworking man of men showed me the the most important work we had to do in our relationship was to continue the mutual respect and trust that was the trademark of our very solid friendship for so many years, and to have the fun that comes so naturally to us as a pair in the process. And so far, my only obligation to him is to be myself, to be honest with him, and to expect the same from him.
In the past two years of dating Carl, I've really come to appreciate the quality of the "meal" itself while tasting and appreciating so many more of the "sauces" -- fun in any setting, variety, road trips, new hobbies, investment ventures, technology exploration. And the best part is that I know there are even more accents we'll discover to enhance the Grade A friendship our entire dating relationship has been based on since it started.
So in honor of my best friend's 36th birthday, I offer a "sauce" from another, whose skills are much more eloquent than mine:
as my own,
did only lend
me to the
world -- yours
gave to me
(St. Francis of Assisi)
It took me a while to grasp the concept, but I think I'm learning that the secret may really be in the sauce after all. Wisdom does have its advantages.
Many thanks, Chef Blackburn. And happy birthday to you.
with much love,