A Birthday Card

Love begins with imagination. [1]

My imagination took off the first moment I met him.   It was the first class of graduate school.  I heard him raving about a play he had just seen.  So, I naturally did what all twenty-two year olds do – suffered through two hours of a play that was set in total darkness – just so I could generate a conversation.  It worked.

My imaginative phased cost me $1,214.63.  Turns out, daydreaming about the life you would have is expensive when your phone is roaming.  Our first summer apart, we spent hours planning the life we would have together.  He would sit on his father’s porch in Dallas, while I spoke dreaming into my hamburger phone from 1993 in my New Jersey bedroom.  I was captivated. I was happy. I was in love.

We spoke of a life full of art.  It would fuel our classrooms, our travels, and the list of productions we wished to see.  We spoke of having children and taking them with us to see the world, before we retired in Vermont.  Naturally, we would spend our twilight years working in our own theater, converted from a local barn.  One year of friendship, three years of dating, seven variations of how to organize the closet in our Manhattan shoebox later, we were married.

And this is where the story fast forwards. Get jobs. Work. Paint a house.  Have three beautiful children.  Go to target.

But in between the banalities of being an adult, the days were taxing.  He was tested.  I was tested.  Our marriage was tested.   The stress began to compile.  There was sadness, syndromes, shots, surgeries.  The last decade of our lives was spent writing eulogies, learning medical terms, and sleeping in shifts.

The imagination was not only dormant, it was dead.

Our marriage was always happy. We were still us.

But there comes a point when there is no more room for imagination.  Movie nights are replaced with meetings about insurance coverage.  Pillow talk transform into grocery lists.  Laughter is swallowed by anxiety.  The behaviors of the children dictate the day.  And for the two kids that fell asleep giggling into a hamburger phone, that relationship that started it all, sadly, comes last.

We couldn’t just focus on our children.  We had to remember our marriage too.

The second phase of love exists in history.

Today is his 40th birthday.  I watch him giggle with our children, I see the history.  The hand that cleans my son’s scraped knee is the same one I first shook in my 20s by a soda machine in Washington Square Park.  It is the hand I held while I got lost in Soho or gripped onto to climb the ruins in Athens.  It is the hand that extended an engagement ring during a rainy proposal at a Vermont playground.  A setting chosen with foresight to know it would be the place where our children would play.  It is the same one I held under the chuppah when we made this thing official and the same fingers that are probably still recovering from being crushed during labor.

Turns out, those kids on the phone got everything they dreamed of.  Happy Birthday, my wonderful husband.  Here’s to another decade of creating history.

[1] Harvard Theorist, Rick Weissbourd.


  1. By far my favorite of your posts!!! You are so talented and your family & friends are so lucky to you in heir lives!!!! Loveeeee!!!! Happy birthday to your lucky husband!!!


  2. What a beautiful birthday message to your dear husband. Leah, your words are magical. You are an amazing woman whom I admire immensely.


  3. I love this! It’s a truly realistic story behind what it’s like to truly love. Most people feel that love is strictly fairytale ideal but this post shows the trueness of the words “true love endures all things, it never fails.” I love how stratigically it was weaved together to tell a beautiful story, that was both authentic, romantic and realistic. By far this is a new favorite of mine!


  4. As I have always known, you are an amazing woman! I always knew that you guys have always had the greatest kind of relationship,& you have confirmed it with the best birthday card ever. Hope you had a great birthday Zac & many more with your great family.

    Love you guys!


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