What do you give to a girl who has everything? By that, I mean everything in the world that counts. Four healthy children who seek her guidance and approval and don’t hole up in their rooms at night. An amazing group of friends who span not years but decades, from childhood, high school, and college and throughout post-nuptial couplehood and motherhood. She’s more than a friend; she’s an attentive listener, confidante, and connector. And should your life take a wrong turn— she is the steely consigliere who will steer you through the rough patches.
Her parents, Bree and Ed, have been at her side (figuratively) her entire life and instilled her with independence and confidence. While in middle school she visited older siblings in college and regularly took the train from Chappaqua to the City to get her hair cut and explore Manhattan. After graduating high school she spent a ‘gap year’ in Brazil (before gap year was a thing.) When she enrolled in college, she drove a Toyota Tercel from Westchester to Ithaca on Route 17 — that’s a four-hour drive through rolling hills, creepy gas stations and dilapidated barns — we’re talking Deer Hunter country — with no cell phone or GPS. I wouldn’t drive a Toyota Tercel to the grocery store — they stopped making that little buggy two minutes after it rolled off the assembly line. She drove one 240 miles through the middle of nowhere.
That is how she approaches life’s challenges, both big and small: unbowed, undaunted, on task and supremely organized. She gets the job done. In the heady days of raising a fourth-born with three young teenagers flying off in a million directions, She was the queen of the carpool, the carpool czar. Her reign was fair but firm; She was never like, here’s the carpool, bitches, take it or leave it. However, if you fudged your responsibilities, if you trifled with the calendar or got your driving days mixed up, look out. She'd be like that’s okay, totally get it, but if it happens again, your next carpool will be with an RTD bus. Her schedule is set in stone months, sometimes years, in advance. She’s already working on Marina’s middle school drive — and Marina’s only in fourth grade.
So back to the question: what do you give to the Girl Who Has Everything? She has endearing friends, a family who orbits around her, five close and involved siblings never more than a phone call or text away, and proud parents who cherish and adore her. And — She has a husband. What a guy. If her husband was a gardener, he’d grow a dozen heirloom rosebushes and prune the finest specimen from each bush and present Her with a bouquet of the most fragrant and luminous roses she had ever laid eyes on. If her husband was a jeweler, he’d fly to Antwerp, the diamond capital, and haggle with merchants and pick out the finest, most polished diamond and upon his return, bend down on one knee and present her with the most stunning, glittering ring she had ever seen. If her husband was a carpenter, he’d take a plane to Vermont, befriend the ruggedest, biggest kick-ass lumberjack in the village, and together they would chop down the tallest black cherry tree in the state, transport it to the sawmill, fabricate it into lumber and build the sturdiest, most lavish bedframe that she had ever imagined.
If her husband was a chef (stay with me) he’d fly to California and harvest the freshest, most tender asparagus, then fly to Pennsylvania and go spelunking into caves searching for the wildest mushrooms, and finally, head to the Caribbean and hire the oldest, wisest fisherman in all the islands and together they would sail the high seas for three straight days and while battling tremendous seasickness and puking over the side of the boat her husband would harpoon the biggest, badass blue marlin that would make crusty old Hemingway proud…
Whoa whoa whoa. If Her husband’s a chef, why’s he trotting all over the globe looking for ingredients? You can find fresh asparagus down the street — you don’t have to fly to California. She’d be on Her next birthday by the time dinner arrived. Not to mention the food cost and carbon footprint— RIDICULOUS. I got a better idea. Here’s how it all goes down: Her husband's a chef, he graduates from the finest culinary school in the world and spends summers in cities learning his craft and working for the meanest chefs on the planet. At twenty-four he opens his first restaurant, spends another ten years toiling away and immersing himself in the kitchen, and then She walks into his life, first as a coworker, then as a friend, and when he needs to prepare the most exquisite meal of his life — he calls upon every culinary synapse in his body, every fiber of his collective memory and makes an incredible meal for Her which opens the door to what leads to something more.
Every year since then — they’ve lost count — the husband makes dinner for The Girl Who Has Everything, and together they remember what brought them together. And together they remember what counts most in this world: Family, Friends…and Birthdays.
Happy Birthday, Emily.