It's Skylar's birthday today, or so he reminded me promptly at 8:18 this morning with a pointed throat clearing from the other room, followed by an acerbic "well are you going to wish me happy birthday or not?!"

I would have remembered, eventually. It really wasn't fair that I was being tested so early.

I rushed to the room he was in and found Skylar sitting on a chair, holding and petting Louie like a wealthy widowed aristocrat. "Happy birthday, my sweet darling."

"Mmmm-hmmmm," he muttered, wincing and pulling away as I rapidly kissed his face the way we do with the dogs.

His mother sent me the above photo last night. "This was when I knew for sure," her accompanying text said. The photo depicts Skylar on Christmas, age seven or so. He apparently loved his princess nightgown. His parents have told me he insisted on wearing it as often as possible. I once asked his mom when she suspected Skylar was gay. She responded, "honey. That boy came out of the womb and the closet at the same time."

It honestly upsets me that I never got to meet Skylar as a child. He was hilariously fabulous and unfailingly earnest. Last year we visited his parents and they pulled out a box of letters and childhood journals he wrote. They included a letter he wrote to his mother, telling her he missed her when she was at work and he thought they really didn't need the money. "Imagine reading something like that from a nine-year-old after getting off a long shift," she told me.

In one of his journals, a crowd pleaser his dad read aloud at our wedding, he wrote about his frustrations with his family at the time. His sisters were picking on him. His parents took their side. Some injustice or another. At the end of the entry he wrote: "I wish I could show them all. If I could just star in one major motion picture, they'd be sorry."

His sense of humor developed at some point, at least by the time he reached high school. It was his sense of humor that drew me to him the moment we met. I would have never continued talking to this person who lived several states away and had no plans to ever come visit Utah, if he hadn't been so damn funny.

I've never met anyone who can make me laugh so consistently. And that's usually intentional!

He has made my life immeasurably better. When I think about my life before meeting him, it seems like part of me was just missing. I think I somehow sensed that, even back then.

Happy birthday, Skyman. You make 32 look like 26.

Please enjoy some Strangerville:

This time in Strangerville, Eli is now a half-ass vegan, Meg's body is falling apart, and a woman recalls a moment when she realized her dad was the star of his own life.


Christmas Dad, by Michelle Slater (music by Ketsa)

Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger