This Saturday my brother Daniel is turning 17. I doubt he'll get the chance to see this little birthday photo montage but I have a feeling that Danny's loved ones might enjoy seeing some photos from his past. Apparently Danny is collecting chapsticks so if you feel like sending him a birthday package, throw some lip balm in the mail. And let this be a warning to anyone who is thinking about taking a walk on the wild side. Don't. Just don't. Because you'll end up with chapstick for your 17th birthday.
Anyways, on to better things. For the record, Daniel was the CUTEST little baby in the world. At least my seven-year-old self thought so when my mom finally brought him back from Utah (where he was born) to Kuwait (where we were living). He came out at 11 pounds (not sure of the ounces but I think in his case, ounces are important- mom/dad, ounces?) and was the fattest little bruiser you ever saw. He needed glasses as soon as he started walking (into walls) and they only multiplied his cute factor. Daniel and Christian are only a year and a half apart and as a result, they were close buddies growing up. I think this made me jealous and I picked on them both a lot. When I wasn't picking on Danny, I was trying to be his mother because I was that type of teenager.
Danny and I didn't really become close until a few years ago. I moved to Boston when he was 8 years old and I was 15. I witnessed a lot of his growing up from a distance, when I witnessed it all (I was kind of a self-absorbed teenager). In recent years, I've started to see him more as a person, as an equal and as a friend and less as my little brother. He makes me laugh like no one else. He can be charming and kind and creative and hilariously weird. In his short 17 years, he's experienced more than I will in a lifetime including these memorable moments:
- He was the first of my siblings to join me in the ranks of brown-eyed Tueller children. I loved him immediately.
- He let Marie and I use food coloring to die his "hair" (more like his scalp) when he was a baby.
- When we lived in London and Doha, Danny attended British schools. His little accent got so thick that sometimes he was hard to understand. Once he politely asked me to stop "taking the mickey."
- He became the center of an elaborate hoax when, during one of our annual State Department physicals, I convinced my mom that Daniel had rabies. I even got the nurses in on it. Boy, did my mom cry like a baby: "Sob sob. I have noticed that he's been foaming at the mouth lately..."
- He was baptized in the Persian Gulf. How cool is that? I thought being baptized in the school swimming pool was cool. I was wrong. Persian Gulf is way cooler.
- Hours after having my wisdom teeth removed, Danny told me that I looked fat and not just because my face was swollen. He was 10.
- When Danny pierced his ear, he wore the letter "t" as an earring (for Tueller, I presume). He refused to admit that his "t" earring was actually a cross.
- He painted his room purple.
- He survived a road trip from Arizona to Utah with me and an infant Booker. He was great company and an excellent DJ.
- He's dragged me to countless NA meetings, including one at 10:00 p.m. on a rainy night at a public park in the worst part of town.
Danny has definitely had his share of struggles and each one has made him resilient and compassionate and interesting and the kind of person I'd like to be around. I'm pretty confident that one day (maybe soon, maybe years from now), he's going to be an amazing young man. As soon as that happens, I'm buying him a one-way plane ticket to Arizona and giving him the title of "Official Babysitter of my boys/DJ of the Road Trips/That One Best Friend who Tells you Straight Up when You've Gained Weight."
Happy Birthday Daniel!