I have a lot to thank for getting me to this place.

Jake Orlowitz
Aug 25, 2017 · 8 min read

On my 34th birthday, I wrote down some gratitude…

I want to thank my parents for raising me with an uncompromising love, throwing an infinitude of baseballs and taking me to their favorite beaches, for bouncing me on their knee and playing games of war, and sending me on adventures down canyons, up mountainsides, and to college where I learned to learn on my own.

That’s where I met the boys. It’s a circle that pre-emptively includes Adam, who every day after 4th grade I would intentionally miss my bus so I could go over to his house and eat his cereal and play tennis and his video games. He taught me how to laugh, and how to know just what you could say to someone before they would think you took it too far. His method, of course was taking it just too far, from which I deduced precisely where too far was, and then could go just barely up to it.

It includes David from summer camp who had a hammer of loyalty that he would occasionally whack me with if I was getting off track, an incredible frisbee toss, and an eye for noticing beauty around him that if others couldn’t see he would make sure, forcefully if necessary, that they did.

I’d like to thank Kumar for teaching me that genius is not intelligence, but drive welded to curiosity. For example, drive to finish a video game and curiosity to wonder what an Xbox controller coated in subway red onions feels like after you hand it over to your freshman roommate for a turn.

I’d like to thank Matt for showing me that life is not tragedy, it’s poker. And when you have the edge you put your chips in and stay in the game and you win big in the long run. Like 2 kids big. Slow down man, manage your stack!

I’d like to thank Drucker, for being so freaking handsome, for not hitting on any women in my life, and for bringing your intense love of making art come alive into the world, contagiously, seductively… but I digress.

I’d like to thank Sippy for trusting that pretentious poetry is really just a young mind trying to form a world around it. And for trying to save a world with even more eloquent words.

I’d like to thank Aaron. First, for being a good listener and a psycho-logical ninja. Second, you have done things embarrassing enough that I don’t have to feel shame anymore. Third, you have been an incomparable friend. Ceteris paribus, I wouldn’t have chosen anyone else to live across from me or walk me back into the world.

The boys are the most uncouth angels that Zeus ever dropped from heaven to come and revive a man dying under blankets with a riveted game of Settlers of Catan.

I want to thank my sisters, for going on journeys that brought back lessons I would have been too timid to learn on my own. For Ray, who motivated me every day of my youth to push myself, mostly so that I could best her in gotcha last. Later to think more deeply about what surrounded me. And recently to not forget too much, while we move on with our futures. To Bec, for not wanting to play baseball and charting her own unique, meticulous, and ambitious course. You have shown that having a dream in life pays off if you are willing to work and sacrifice for it. To both my sisters I owe thousands of conversations and burst of hilarity across the dining room table.

I’d like to thank my grandmothers, the soft chubby one, and then also bubby, for giving me without reservation all of their delightful personality and hugs and humor.

I’d like to thank my Aunts and Uncles (and cousins!), real and adopted, for each giving me a piece of myself that I didn’t know I had. You remind me that we are broader than one variation on a genome, wiser, wackier, more inquisitive, more patient.

I’d like to thank my Wikipedia friends, too numerous and globally distributed to number. You have been fine companions in our crazy quest to create a community that can share knowledge with the world. At it’s best, that is a sacred calling and you are incredible allies and good company on that mission we take on together.

I was a model child, nary a rebellious or rude moment, up and through my teens. I’d like to thank my parents for enduring the rich payback of my 20’s where I did everything in my power to upend those roots. Thank you for making sure i stopped digging before I proved I could.

I’d like to thank my high school wrestling coach Jim who after an unexpected loss told me that I was playing it too close to the vest. He meant on the wrestling mat, but it was an implication without boundaries in my future.

I’d like to thank Chip for making sure I took the walk, and the flight, and never treating me like I couldn’t handle it.

I’d like to thank that portly psychiatrist who sat with me and listened for days about all of the obstacles I was clinging to. And then after a long pause said, “You know it isn’t too late — to have the things you want — but it will be at some point.” I look around today and I know exactly what he meant.

I want to thank the choice made to hop on a bus to Washington D.C in 2012 where I had to meet Siko Bouterse, who I was sure was French Polynesian, so that I could find someone to have faith in me and my vision. That $20 bus ticket turned out to be worth an uncountable fortune.

It was months after I got back from that D.C. conference, when my dad stopped asking who I was chatting with, because he already knew by the sheer look on my face — eyes shining, cheeks glowing, lips spread wide across my face with held-in laughter. I couldn’t conceal it, it just erupted through me. He dubbed it my Siko Face.

We went out for dumplings in Hong Kong, Bratwurst in Germany, curries in London, tacos in Mexico city, cocktails in San Francisco, and ceviche in San Diego.

When you invited me to California for the first time, you opened the door — literally, you had just picked up Zara, and warned me before bringing her home that she might not be so warm at first. The door ajar, that 3 year old stared and Shouted, “Jake!!!” and started running into my arms sooner than I could get down on my knees to hug her back. Thank you for letting me in.

I’d like to thank Zara for inviting me play with her in the morning while others are sleeping, and for being an excellent breakfast bread co-chef, for taking me on walks to pick flowers and other people’s fruit, for showing me the Right way to throw a frisbee, and for letting me come back from trips with bags of presents that are Definitely Not For Her. For being creative, silly, strong, smart, and fearless. For proving to me that girls can wrestle, and like her mom, showing me that wrestling with girls who are fierce radical modern competitors can be as thrilling as it is dangerous for many parts of my body.

I’d like to thank Siko’s family, for welcoming me from day 1. With teases and tips only a big brother could offer, gluten-free apricot almond cookies and rooms surrounded by colorful and enchanting art, spirit card readings, hand-crafted chocolate truffles made in overalls, gratis lessons in the freedom of body movement, a place to crash in San Francisco and walks around Seattle, hikes up the Hollywood hills and paper dresses, farm-to-table graduation brunches, escapes into high mountains, and no less, the chance to be an uncle to three wily boys before I even realized that was possible for me. To my 3 new sisters, 2 new brothers, 4 new moms, 2 new dads, 2 aunts and 1 uncle, 3 nephews, and even the mule-biting cousin John… Thanks for treating me so well. And to Anna, Lon, Nancy, Linda… thank you for being there, for sharing your homes and hearts, talents and wisdom, with my girl.

I’d like to thank Lucas, and Melanie for being awesome co-parents. I feel very, very good going to sleep at night knowing that Zara has — at least — 4 incredibly engaged, thoughtful people looking out and up for her each day.

There are many others to thank, and I hope to get the words to you in time.

But for the best, I’d like to thank Siko. For finding my confessional and nervous approach to our first conversations endearing. For showing me there was more to life than even Wikipedia! For being the best menu ordering partner I have encountered in my entire life. I, renowned for my culinary picks, have never mis-ordered a single dish with you. Together we can eat the ideal meal in any restaurant setting anywhere on the planet, and if that is not a metaphor for What This Is, then I give up the search for a better comparison.

I’d like to thank you for growing with me. For re-teaching me how to snuggle. For helping me learn how to be teased. For taking me on adventure after adventure. Thank you for helping me be hard when life demands it. Thank you for practicing being soft when we depend on it to grow. Thank you for saying “ok….. Yes”, when I asked if you wanted to get married***.

You taught me, in your wise and persevering ways, that family comes in a million different shapes and colors, and life is all the more interesting and wonderful for it. I never would have imagined that family looks like me, you and Z, sitting on paddle boards wearing wetsuits a mile out from the beach watching a sea otter cuddle its baby on a patch of 40 foot tall seaweed in the marine sanctuary of our backyard. I have learned to trust that whatever my preconception, you have often imagined it better than I.

I am proud of your initiative, boldness, creativity, perception, loyalty, and love. With you I’m often enamored, frequently challenged, never bored, and ever evolving. In the mornings I wake up from sweaty dreams and wrap myself around you in the best 5 minutes of my day. At nights you take my arm before you bury your head and use it like a thermopedic pillow with a death grip on my bicep. I hope you never let it go.

To all the people in my life and whom I’ve met along my journey, thank you.

Happy 34!

Oh, and of course, to my boxer Bella!

The J Curve

It gets better. First, it gets worse.

Jake Orlowitz

Written by

Internet citizen. Seeker of well people and sane societies. Head of The Wikipedia Library — @WikiLibrary. Happy to have works (re)published!

The J Curve

It gets better. First, it gets worse.

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