Brotherly Love: Happy Birthday Fellas

I grew up near Albany, New York that’s about 2.5 hours north of New York City. I have a younger sister, we are the children of divorce. Where I come from, family is important, your crew, which becomes an extension of your family is arguably just as important. Although I never had biological brothers, I learned that friendship is a bond that is insanely tough to break but when you find the right friends, those people become family, an unbreakable bond occurs.

I was fortunate enough to have two friends who became my brothers. Two guys who couldn’t be any more different, any more opposite if I tried but to me they were the contrast that I needed to round out my own crew. These two guys know who they are but I have a platform to share stories and they deserve the shoutout. Their birthdays are only a few days apart so as we mark the official start of their “birthday weekend” I felt like this post, this story was poignant and appropriate. So, before I continue, let me share a loud and heartfelt happy birthday to Steve and Kyle, my brothers.

I believe in life there are a lot of moments that make you confused, hurt, misunderstood and lost. I think that having friends in your corner is what makes the darkest nights turn into the brightest mornings. We all have an idea of who our “friends” are but the true colors and REAL friends are revealed when they need to stand in your corner when you are dying from a rare disease, going through your parents divorce, helping you recover from substance abuse, staying in touch when you move eight states and ten hours away and standing by your side when you marry the girl of your dreams. I went through all that, every single thing I mentioned was a part of my life and every time I was down and out, depressed, anxious, paranoid and in need of a helping hand, Steve and Kyle undoubtedly answered the bell. I am man enough to say this, I love you both very much, more than this stupid blog can describe.

Steve – He was my teammate on the baseball diamond for eleven years, our friendship began when we were seven years old and for the last TWENTY YEARS, I never doubted his loyalty or his friendship for one second. He is not my oldest friend, but he is my best friend, without him, I don’t know where I would be. I would probably be somewhere in Upstate New York being miserable and not laughing out loud because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to laugh out loud when I hear him recite lines from Dumb & Dumber or hit the high vocal in Little Red Corvette. It’s funny, I don’t remember, or I cannot pinpoint when I realized that we had turned a casual friendship into a brotherhood, that I had become inseparable with someone who I admired on so many levels. This kids work ethic, dedication and ability to be perfect and make it look so damn easy is something that I have never seen from anyone in my life. He is a brilliant mind on all subjects and if he wants to pipe up and give you advice, you better take it or you will be doing yourself a tremendous disservice. For the last couple of months I have been fortunate enough to watch him mold his craft up close and personal, the help and advice he has given me has shaped me into being better than I thought I could be, his confidence in me has propelled me to a new height, that right there is an invaluable tactic that very few people on this earth possess.

Kyle – Will he let you down and not show up on time? Will he forget to pick-up the chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday? Will he get red-faced and panic when he tries to hide things from me so I won’t have a meltdown? Yes, to all the above. Is he one of the most genuine and kind-hearted, generous people I have ever met? No doubt about it. I knew Kyle for a while, we grew up in the same city and attended the same school for a short period of time, played in the same little league but I didn’t really get to know him until we were 13. My life was forever changed, he’s still the only person who can make me belly laugh, piss my pants from tears of laughter and bust my balls so relentlessly that I can only give in and accept his victory over me. Our friendship blossomed into that aforementioned brotherhood when I hired him to be my assistant coach for the baseball team that I was the head coach of. We were twenty years old, traveling the country, staying in hotels, winning games, scrolling through tinder and living the dream. So many nights on the road, in shitty hotels, talking about nonsense while sneaking in some conversations that turned into us realizing that we were the other half to our duo that we both had been looking for. He’s there for you when nobody is looking, he is there for a pick-you-up when he senses you need it, he’s truly a unique personality, in the greatest most honest, generous and genuine way possible.

I have battled insecurities and doubts my entire life. I look at these two guys and often think, what did I do to get so lucky to have friends like these who turned into my family. I often question myself if I am as good of a friend to them as they are to me, do they feel the same way about me, will they want me to be by their side on their wedding day? I hope they feel the same way, I hope they consider me their lifelong brother. These are my insecurities and it’s my way of knowing just how much these two guys have meant to me, my insecurities and paranoia stem from the fear that I am not giving them as much as they have given me and always having my back.

I am sure some of you have read this and are asking yourself “why didn’t he just tell them all this himself”? Well, I think I have, many times, in texts, in person, in calls but perhaps I didn’t articulate myself the way I wanted. These two guys deserve the shoutout and the ability to go back anytime they want and read this and realize that I would lay it down and take a bullet for either of them.

My brothers, buon compleanno, salud, chindon! I know Kyle will give me shit for saying anything in Italian, so for him I will translate. Here is to 100 years of health and happiness, to the members of my crew. I know someday we will look up and we will be old, all three of us as fat as Kyle is now, three old buddies sitting on the beach somewhere with our girls, smoking our cigars and realizing just how good we have had it and just how good of friends we have been to each other.This has and always will be a family. I will see you soon to party. Love ya’ fellas.