There was a time when hearing your name
Chilled my blood and raised my anxiety.
I’d look around, watching for you,
Nervously hoping to avert your gaze,
Bully. You terrified me.
Somewhere between high school and graduate school,
Between apologies and catching up,
Serious illnesses, breakups, and career milestones,
We became friends.
Worlds apart but closer than many of my colleagues.
At first, I was skeptical of your remorse,
Wondering if it could possibly be real.
I’d built you up as my vindictive, diabolical arch-nemesis.
My Lex Luther.
Somewhere between there and here,
From high school to reality,
You’ve become a cherished ally,
Prince Charming when I was at my lowest,
Treating me to the ultimate luxury,
My body riddled with cancer and chemo,
Distracting me from the fear of death,
Of truly missing out.
The Southern California sun kissing my pale skin,
Carbonation from my first taste of champagne dancing on my tongue,
Sand between my toes,
your fingers interlaced with mine,
And you, worshipping at my temple,
Delight and care and kindness washing over me, making me whole.
You restored my confidence.
You showered me with celebration for my recovery and health.
You glued back the pieces you broke within me so long ago.
And then, like clockwork, you were back to business.
From your cruelty to your kindness,
Our hatred to mutual admiration,
The United States to the Arab World,
You’ve made me feel and made me strong.
Happy Birthday. Every day.