Friday, July 31, 2009

All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted was to lead a gorgeous life
To dance in sunbeams by the day and in starlight at night
All I ever wanted was to be the boy who shined
Whose brilliant smile lit the world and eyes reflected sky

All I ever wanted was to be the one they loved
Whose tinkling laugh could reach the clouds like soaring, singing doves
All I wanted was to glint, to sparkle in the air
To win their hearts with nothing but a flicker of my hair

All I wished to do was to illuminate the night
With words that sparked like fireflies and hands that blazed alight
All I dreamt was that one day my heart could warm the earth
To emanate such beauty even I could see my worth

All I ever wanted was all I could never have
I glowed not as a diamond but as onyx, stony black
All I ever wanted was for you to love me, too
But you do not love me, not a single one of you

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Friends

Horse Girl

When Powell was in Decaying State last month as my grandmother’s life wound to a close, I received a telephone call from him.

“BB, there’s this girl you have to meet,” he told me. “It’s my friend Tan Boy’s cousin. He said she’s basically like a female version of you.”

With the issue of my sexuality not yet revealed to him, I didn’t know how to respond.

When he asked my permission to give her my cell phone number, though, what could I say? It didn’t feel right to reveal my homosexuality to him during a long-distance conversation, but refusing his request when I had not had a date in a (very) long time and was ostensibly looking would have been inexplicable, so I said yes.

“At the very least,” I thought to myself. “She could be a cool friend.”

She called me before I left for my grandmother’s funeral, laughing nervously as she told me that her cousin and my brother were “trying to hook us up.”

“Oh, yeah,” I laughed. As with my brother, I felt I couldn’t unmask such a big truth over the phone, particularly not to a stranger who was liable to spread the word in our very small town. “We should hang out sometime.”

I tried to be as noncommittal as possible, but already I felt the familiar sense of suffocation settling over me that had defined all of my previous relationships.

When you’re gay and trying to be straight, a sense of foreboding hangs over any courtship you engage in, propelled by the subconscious knowledge that physical intimacy will be an impossibility and the resulting fear that some great inadequacy will be exposed in you when the partnership fails.

I learned this for the first time in eighth grade, when I briefly dated Blonde Girl, a hilarious classmate who I adored as a friend and thus thought I could adore as a girlfriend. I found a reason within weeks to terminate our coupling, for the entire time I was overwhelmed by a sense of dread.

Most of my readers are heterosexuals, and I would ask them to imagine attempting to force themselves into a homosexual relationship, masking their heterosexuality from a society in which homosexuality was by far the predominant trend. Try to conceive of what it would feel like to press your lips to the lips of someone of the same sex, to touch them, to caress them, to feign pleasure, to attempt the cringing act of making love. It’s horrible, particularly if you can’t admit to yourself the reason for the anxiety.

After I broke up with Sacagawea and came to my own homosexuality, I resolved that I would never again subject another young woman to the profound unfairness of a relationship with a partner who, in a fundamental sense, could never be committed to her, regardless of the affection he might feel toward her as a person.

So, as I made vaguely polite statements to Horse Girl, as she will be known here, I resolved that it was time to tell Powell the truth.

My grandmother died on June 19th, and later that day I was in Decaying State, where, after the perfunctory greetings of family, I pulled my brother aside. I’d been planning on waiting for some time to inform him how things were, but if he was going to be attempting to set me up it would come out eventually anyway, so I decided to forestall any such awkwardness.

“So, I have to tell you something,” I said as we loitered by his car.

“What?” he asked.

“I…I’m gay.”

He stared at me.

“No you’re not,” he said.

“Yes I am,” I answered.

“BB,” he said, disbelief etched onto his face. “Are you sure? How do you know?”

“I just…do,” I said.

“You’re a virgin, though,” he said. “So how can you know?”

“Powell, you’re a virgin, too,” I reminded him. “How do you know you’re straight? It’s just that when I think sexual thoughts, they’re about guys.”

“True,” he said, then smiled. “Wow. Wow. I seriously cannot believe this.”

“You’re okay with it?” I asked.

“Yeah, BB,” he said. “I don’t care. It just blows my mind, that’s all. I mean, I’ve known you my whole life.”

The rest of the night was punctuated with jokes about “my big, gay brother” and the like, but something real had been accomplished.

Upon my return to Southern State, I called up Horse Girl, and we had a long conversation on the phone, over the course of which I discovered that we had a great deal in common. Both of us were made fun of in school, both despised our Freshman years of college (she actually dropped out in the spring semester), both have somewhat unconventional beliefs regarding the supernatural, and both are literature fanatics. We discussed everything from the merits of the Twilight and Harry Potter series to the losses of family members.

Horse Girl told me about the traumatic murder of her uncle when she was in high school and the way that a horse arrived to save her family’s spirit.

“My uncle was my mother’s twin brother,” she said. “And for a long time she wasn’t functional. Then came the baby.”

Horse Girl lives on a farm just outside of Mountain Town, where her family grow their own vegetables, raise chickens, and breed horses. The foal she spoke of was born shortly after her uncle’s death and was a light to all their lives before it succumbed to disease two years later and passed away.

“She was here just long enough to give my mother a reason to live again, to get up in the morning,” Horse Girl said. “And then she left. I really believe that she was sent to make us better.”

The first time that Horse Girl and I met in person, we stayed up talking until two in the morning. During that conversation, I told her I was gay.

“I just feel like you might like me,” I said. “And I didn’t want to lead you on or give you false hope. I’ve done that before, and I promised myself I’d never put anyone else through that.”

“Well, thank you,” she said, but the hurt was plain on her face. “Thank for telling me now and not being an asshole. Some people wouldn’t care.”

Drinking On the Roof

Over the course of the next week or so, Horse Girl and I spent a good deal of time together and she even introduced me to some friends of hers, including Tattoo Girl.

Making Lemonade

Tattoo Girl is a ferrier, which means she trims horses’ hooves for a living, and she owns a business that Horse Girl works for. In addition to being a twenty-three-year-old entrepreneur, Tattoo Girl is a musician, book worm, and all-around cool person. She and Horse Girl, who is twenty, hang out a lot. Next month, she plans to move to Western City, about ten minutes from here, and Horse Girl is considering being her roommate.

I’m glad Horse Girl has Tattoo Girl, because the thing is this: Horse Girl has been hurt.

She’s a sweet, smart, likeable girl who, because she is literate, because she is passionate about her animals, and because she doesn’t fit the conventional model of Western beauty, was mocked and tormented throughout her high school years, subjected to fake relationships by people who toyed with her emotions as a way of making fun of her.

Occasionally, this pain seeps through.

One late night after I left her house, she called me to let me know I’d left my flash drive there. It was around one in the morning at this point, but I’d only just gotten home and figured I might as well get the device, which I needed. When I arrived back at her house, she seemed strange, withdrawn.

“BB, can I ask you something?”

“What is it?”

“Well…” she stopped and shook her head. “No, it’s nothing. It’s so stupid.”

“Horse Girl, tell me,” I said. I could see tears in her eyes. “It’s not stupid, just tell me.”

She took a moment, but then she asked, “Do you think I’m pretty?”

I’d made a comment earlier in the day that her friend Tattoo Girl was good looking, remarking that even though I was gay I could recognize an attractive person of the opposite sex.

The truth is, I don’t find Horse Girl very appealing, but as I looked into her misty eyes, I searched for any compliment I could think of to give her. I’m usually not very good at lying, so I try always to say something I really believe.

“Well, Horse Girl,” I said. “You’re really healthy. You’re not too big, you’re not too small, and you take really good care of yourself.”

I was trying to say something that was based in fact but didn’t also sound incredibly lame. Luckily, I had the presence of mind not to tell her how wonderfully hygienic I thought she was.

The water started to leak from her eyes, and I suggested we take a walk.

“I’m sorry,” she said, rubbing the moisture from her cheeks. “It’s just that I can’t stop myself from having feelings for you.”

That stopped me in my tracks.

“Horse Girl, you know I’m gay,” I said. “And if I could change that, believe me I would, but I can’t. I spent twenty years trying to be straight; if it were possible, I would have done it.”

“I know, I know,” she said. “And I don’t want you to feel bad. It’s just that when my cousin told me about you, I thought nothing would come of it. Then when I started talking to you, and you were so great, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘This time it’s going to be different.’ And when I realized it wasn’t, it was terrible.”

“Horse Girl, there is someone out there for you,” I reassured her.

Her tears came forth with harsh intensity and her voice broke, “That’s what people have been telling me for my entire life.”

I wanted to hug her, but didn’t want her to have to touch me.

“Horse Girl, I’m sorry,” I said. “Believe me, I’ve thought about it, too. It seems unfair that we should be so alike, so compatible, and not be able to be together, but I know exactly what will happen if we try, because I’ve done it before. There will be a point we won’t be able to get past. Sex is an important part of every relationship. It wouldn’t be fair to either one of us.

“I could never be fully faithful to you, because I’d be trying to go against my nature, and there’d always be the risk that I’d fall for some guy and leave. I’d be trapping myself, and I’d be making a mockery of you.”

“I know, I know,” she said, quieting herself.

The sound of grasshoppers chirping filled the night.

“It it’s easier,” I said quietly. “I can stay away. I don’t want to be an open sore to you.”

“No,” she said, adamant. “I want you in my life. Either I have to get over my feelings for you or cope with having them, but I don’t want to lose you as a friend. I want you in my life in whatever capacity you can be.”

This relieved me, because I didn’t want to lose her as a friend either, though I would have left if she’d asked it. I can’t tell now if she’s better or not. I hope so. I wish she could find someone, but I know it can’t be me.

As it is, we have become close, but as friends. Last night, she, Peruvian Girl, Tattoo Girl, and I went out to dinner at a local pizza restaurant, then returned to Horse Girl’s farm to ride her horse Snickers.

Peruvian Girl Takes the Saddle

On the Horse

Horse Girl held onto and guided the animal for most of the time, though at one point I was directing it by myself. It was great fun, as are many of the times I spend with Horse Girl, whom I sense Peruvian Girl is growing to like.

I want Horse Girl to be happy, and, short of compromising myself, I will do whatever I can to make that happen. I will not, however, make the same mistake I’ve made countless times before and take a course of action just because I think it’s expected of me or it’s what other people think I should do.

That time in my life is over.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rest Assured

I will be writing a real post--about real things--sometime in the near future. There's so much to talk about.

Here is how my schedule is structured: I work, usually ten hours a day or more, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That is typically the busiest time for any theater, which the exception of Sunday. I get all of my hours done in a relatively short time, then have the other four days of the week to do whatever I wish. I find this very enjoyable.

This week was filled with new friends and work on the book, which I will update you on before long.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Addendum to the Hair Update

After I’d taken a good look at the photographs for the most recent hair update, I realized that they weren’t particularly good.

The problem is this: my hair is very thick and very wavy, which means that, for a while, it looks the same despite the fact that it is getting longer. I like my hair to be a little bit straighter but wouldn’t actually take the trouble to straighten it, so instead I just wear it in three hair ties, each a fist-length apart from each other, and then take them out before leaving the house.

So, here is my new and improved hair update.

Last month, my hair looked like this:

My Hair

My Ponytail

This month, with more representative photos, it looks like this:

My Hair

My Ponytail

There you go, done until August!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hair Update

It's time for another hair update. I was a bit late this month, but there were a lot of other things going on.

This is what my hair looked like in June:

My Hair

My Ponytail

Here's what it looks like now, in July:

My Hair

My Ponytail

Due to the waviness, it looks like it's grown less than it has, but I can assure that it is much longer than before.

At home I've taken to wearing it bound with three hair ties, which helps it stay straight when I let it down. I really like having it this long and can't wait for it to get longer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Vacation

On the Road

My father and I left on the evening of Wednesday, July 15th, for Mountain Resort (previously known as Awesome Water Park), a massive facility about one hundred miles south of Mountain Town in the central part of this state.

I have always held, in contention with some of my friends, that Native State is endowed with more natural beauty than Southern State, but as my father and I sped south along a major interstate highway, that argument became increasingly difficult to justify. The western portion of Native State is gorgeous, but it's a small area in comparison with the vast expanses of mountains and valleys that we enjoy here.

I had been reluctant to partake in the trip, but Thomas and Pie, who'd been at Mountain Resort since Friday the 12th of July were adamant that Powell and I come, and so I acceded.

Before long, I had reason to be thankful that I'd decided to go.

Entering Mountain Resort

We pulled up to the gate just as dusk was beginning to settle over the mountainous skyline, and as we advanced up a steep road that led to our building, my father elucidated upon the way the resort was organized, with members falling into four separate categories, each of which entailed different privileges and different types of housing. He and my mother had opted for the highest membership level available, which entitled us to the use of an "awesome" condo whenever we visited the resort.

We pulled over in front of what looked like a group of duplex houses built into the side of a mountain.

One of the first things that struck me about Mountain Resort was the strange way that nature and civilization coexisted, the latter just barely kept from falling into the chaotic clutches of the former. Decades of pervasive human presence has desensitized the animals in the area, so that deer walk right up to people in the streets and other wildlife comes closer than many of the vacationers would like.

"You have to be very careful here at night," my father warned me. "There are snakes, bears, foxes, raccoons, everywhere."

We walked across the rickety wooden deck that provided access to our house, and an ecstatic Thomas and Pie met me at the entrance and then walked me down the stairs to our condo (a single other family stayed in the condo one floor above us), anxious to give me the grand tour of the place.

The Kitchen

We started with the kitchen, always a place of utmost concern to Thomas and me. My mother had cooked a huge bowl of spaghetti, and she and my father had furthermore stocked the place with popcorn, brownies, cookies, soda, and other goodies.

The Dining Room

The adjacent dining room was spacious and comfortable, providing a relaxed space in which to eat our meals.

The Living Room

The living room was tastefully decorated and well apportioned, and it had sliding glass doors leading out onto a balcony.

"Wait a minute, Thomas," I said, interrupting his and my sister's enthusiastic presentation. "I want to go out there."

The View at Night

Mountain Resort is built into the mouth of a giant valley, what locals refer to as "the Cradle," and is actually an inactive volcano that burned here millions of years ago. From our position atop one ridge, the settlements on the mountain's other side looked like a glittering city hidden deep within the forest.

"Wow," I whispered. "It's so beautiful."

My siblings, however, were under the impression that something far more beautiful was located back inside, and they steered me down the hallway with appropriate promises that what I was about to see was something of incomprehensible majesty and magnificence.

When my eyes fell upon it, I was shocked.

summer09 005

"Sweet mother of Nelly," I exclaimed.

Nelly, incidentally, is the name of our cleaning lady, who has developed the habit of rearranging our personal belongings every time she comes to the house. For the first several months of her tenure here, we would spend days trying to locate toothbrushes, shoes, CDs, DVDs, and books, but none of us had the heart to tell her off for it because we knew she was trying to help us be organized.

Now we've grown so accustomed to this unsolicited service that, should our footwear mysteriously vanish, someone will remember, "Oh, that's right, Nelly came today," and we'll all dash for the hall closet.

She also has a peculiar penchant for putting DVDs on the shelves of my mother's desk.

My use of the term "Nelly" predates the maid's presence in our lives, however, and was already prevalent long before her term here to denote shock, exasperation, or some other strong emotion. Nonetheless, every time I say it now, she pops into my head. I'm always worried that I'm going to inadvertently shout out, "Mother of Nelly!" while she's here and leave her horribly confused or offended.

I was moved to invoke the hallowed phrase Wednesday night at the sight of our bathroom at Mountain Resort, which included floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a stand-up shower, and a Jacuzzi that covered more floor space than some entire lavatories would have occupied.

Our Bathroom

"This is ours?" I asked in amazement.

"Yeah," Thomas replied.

"Wow," I said. "Mom and Dad's must be awesome."

"Nope," he answered. "Just a shower and a toilet."

We looked at each other and cracked up laughing.

Thomas and Pie in the Jacuzzi

Then we continued on our tour of the house.

Our Room

The bedroom that Thomas and I shared was quite nice, with single beds, a plasma television, and a window looking out onto the mountain.

My Parents' Room

My parents' room was more impressive than their bathroom.

Before long all of the beds were occupied, as, without Internet access, we drifted off the sleep at a reasonable hour.

The next morning, my mother made scrambled eggs, ham, and toast, all served with applesauce. After a quick breakfast, I stepped out onto the balcony again, where I was greeted by a stunning surprise.

The View From Our Balcony

In the morning daylight, the mountain's beauty was bared for all the world to see, with none of night's shadows to hide it. I couldn't help but think how very fortunate we were to be able to experience such loveliness firsthand, to wake every morning to such a breathtaking sight.

Looking Out the Window

That Thursday, we trekked up to Mountain Resort's scenic overlook, an astounding vista at the top of the mountain from which the whole of the expansive resort is visible. Included in that sphere are golf courses, a fantastic waterpark, a recreation center, saunas, spas, tanning centers, a skate park, and a host of pools and hot tubs, both outdoor and indoor.

After we'd gone to the scenic overlook we spent several hours at one of the resort's more exclusive pools, a place far less crowded than the others because only certain categories of the mountain's visitors were allowed in.

If this sounds like snobbery, I only bring it up to illustrate a point: thousands of people packed this resort, filling some of the pools so densely that a person could hardly swim at all. To have an area removed from that was quite nice.

Powell and Blonde Boy, his best friend from high school, arrived that afternoon. After we left the pool, Powell, Thomas, Pie, Blonde Boy, and I went to the skatepark.

Pie Gets Ready to Tear Up

Thomas and Pie are both avid skaters (though Pie more in spirit than in practice, as she's yet to really get a good handle on it), and Powell was at one point in middle school. Blonde Boy and I were the only ones who had no history of skateboarding, and we were content to watch the three of them tear it up on the concourse.

Thomas Helps Pie

Thomas took time to help his six-year-old sister down a ramp or two before hopping on his board to scale the ramps himself. Powell was very involved in skateboarding when he was around Thomas's age but fell out of it as he got older.

Watching Thomas easily navigate jumps and half-pipes that were challenging for many of the other skaters (and certainly for anyone in our group), Powell and I marveled at how good he'd become.

"I probably could have handled some of this stuff in like eighth grade," Powell told me. "But not now."

Powell Picks Up an Old Habit

He participated, of course, but Thomas is obviously now the skating star of the family, better, I would dare say, than Powell was even at his peak. I'm glad Thomas has skateboarding. It's a healthy athletic pursuit that provides him with exercise, gives him a sense of accomplishment, helps him establish feelings of self-confidence, comprises a backdrop for camaraderie with many peers, and keeps him from other activities that might not be as praiseworthy.

Friday was spent almost entirely at the waterpark (which was amazing), and then early Saturday morning we left. We're planning on going back in November and I can't wait.

Along with various recreational pursuits, the vacation featured many encounters (some unwanted) with local animals.

On my first morning at Mountain Resort, my sister chanced a peek through the sliding glass doors in the living room and then rushed onto the balcony with an exclamation of, "Oh, boy, Fatty!"

Fatty is the plump groundhog who lives behind our condo, christened by my sister for his girth.

Pie Lures Fatty With a Treat

After she spotted him, Pie rushed back inside, grabbed some watermelon from the kitchen, and then dangled it out from the balcony railing, calling, "Here, Fatty. Heeeere, Fatty. Come on, Fatty!"

When Fatty complied, she tossed the fruit down at him and then laughed as he devoured it until its green husk turned white.


My father hadn't been lying about the deer, either; they routinely approached to within several yards, and on at least three separate occasions I caught one poking around near our dining room window.

That is the great paradox of Mountain Resort, one I noted to Thomas one night as we raced in the dark back to our condo after a raccoon crawled from a dumpster and began to give chase.

"It's really funny that the safest place we could be is built into the side of a mountain," I said. "We're literally surrounded by snakes, bears, deer, and all sorts of things. They're inches from us, but they can't get in."

It really is a remarkable and enjoyable place, and I'm anxiously looking forward to taking pictures this Fall, when the change of the seasons is sure to make the mountain gorgeous in a wholly different way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Off Again

My father and I are leaving this afternoon to join the rest of my family at Awesome Water Park, where we'll stay for two nights.

My mother and younger siblings, except Powell, have been there since Friday.

A post will be forthcoming upon my return.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lessons Taken Home

I left for my grandmother's house in Native State with Thomas on Monday, July 6th; and returned home on Thursday, July 9th.

Our trip there was filled with the usual delicious food, fun excursions, and pampering, but in addition to roast beef and soda, I returned to Southern State with some important truths.

Before I get to that, though, let me show you some pictures from the fun times we had:

Our First Dinner

Several hours after our arrival, our grandmother served my brother and I a delicious dinner of crab cakes and haddock.

My grandmother and Thomas, by now used to my strange habit of urging them to look away when I take pictures, accommodated me.

Grand Ma and Thomas Make Their Purchases

After we gulped down this meal, the three of us headed for dessert to a snowball stand several minutes away from my grandmother's home. Snowballs are a delectable Native State tradition that to this day I have yet to find in any other state, confections of shaved ice shaped into a ball, thoroughly doused in thick flavored syrup, and sometimes filled with marshmallow.

Describing this to any non-Native Stater invariably leads them to ask, "So, it's a snow cone?" or "So, it's Italian ice?"

Snow cones are flavorless brick-like things covered in little more than colored water, and Italian ice is of softer texture. Anyone who's actually tasted a snowball would instantly know the difference, but until you do it's a bit hard to understand.

Thomas Takes a Bite Out of a Chocolate Snowball

My Egg-Custard

Thomas got a chocolate while I enjoyed an egg custard (another major difference between snowballs and other frozen treats is that snowballs come in literally dozens of flavors, only a fraction of which I, a child of Native State, have ever tried).

Eating a Snowball

Grand Ma

We ate our snowballs sitting on a bench outside of the stand, and my grandmother even posed for a barely-faceless photo.

The next day we went to the movies and then, when we got home, engaged in another celebrated Native State tradition.

A Feast

Now, just for the sake of principle I'm not going to say where Native State is, nor will I admit whether any guesses are right, but I think by this point it's pretty obvious where I'm from. If you're an American and you haven't figured it out yet, you might want to rethink your citizenship.

Thomas Poses

It wasn't all crabs and cookies, though.

During our three-day stay, I had an important conversation with my grandmother and figured some things out. The following is a diary entry that I wrote one night of the visit:

July 7, 2009

Thomas and I are in the middle of a visit to Grand Ma Normal Family's house that so far has gone swimmingly. We arrived yesterday, on Monday the 6th of July, and that evening went to the skate park, where Grand Ma and I spent an hour in the car while Thomas skateboarded with enough exertion to drench himself in sweat.

Later in the night we watched Revolutionary Road, which we rented on the way home. It was a depressing film about a suburban couple from New York City, who, as the promise of their youth fades, come to the realization that they are just like everyone else.

The movie disturbed me, because it embodied my worst fear: that the greatness of my destiny was just something I could pretend at as a child, before I'd ever been subjected to the trials of the real world, and that once minority ended the hopes would collapse, falling away as the mere fantasies of someone destined to live a mediocre existence.

I am talented; I can say without reserve that I'm a magnificent writer, and if I do fail to make an imprint, or fail to get published, it will be my own fault.

A terror of mine is falling into the Weird Family tradition, all wasted ability and false superiority.

The key to avoiding these pitfalls consists, as I see it, of two things: choosing a career to go into after college, and finishing the book upon which I have been laboring inconsistently for years. I must make significant progress by the end of the summer, lest I squander my own potential.

I am twenty-one years old now, verging on true manhood. I must make something of myself, not hide behind the excuse of time and youth, and if I am to make something of myself it will almost certainly be through the written word.

Owning to this has been a relief; at least now I admit my problems. I came out to my grandmother this morning.

I was more nervous with her than with anyone else, but she just said she'd known in her heart for years and that she'd always love me. By the end of our sunny walk, she'd hugged me several times as tears filled my eyes, and as I told her about the bitter regret I felt for missing out on high school. There's no point in reflecting on that colossal mistake, though, as nothing can be done about it.

It's just so hard not to think about what might have been had I been braver, had I stood up for the truth, for my truth. I wish I had been more courageous. I'd like to think now, as I sit on my grandmother's porch and stare out into the dark summer night, that something great is waiting for me. I realize now, though, in all seriousness, that I have to pursue it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Happier Absence

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.

This week, I will be gone yet again, this time on a visit to Grand Ma Normal Family's home in Native State.

When I get back I have to post on three major topics: Grand Ma Weird Family's funeral, the events of the 4th of July holiday, and reflections on Pie's sixth birthday, which passed on June 18th.

I'll write when I get back.