When Jon and I first started dating, he was living with a good friend near JHU. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I was rather intimidated by Robert at first. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was because people had told me how incredibly brilliant he was, and that made me a little nervous. You know, was he going to turn out to be a fun guy or an awkward poindexter type?
But I think some of it had to do with his dry sense of humor. Here is one early (silly) example. As the weather turned cold that fall of 2003, the inhabitants and frequent visitors (i.e., Gwyneth and I) of the apartment all wore black or dark coats. Well, one weekend, I came over sporting this brown corduroy jacket with a white fleece lining. I went to hang up my coat on the rack, and Robert looked up from the futon in the living room and said to me sternly, “Um, Erin? We only hang black coats on the coat rack.” I laughed, hung up my coat, and scurried back to Jon’s room. “Do you think he was joking?” “Yes, Erin, I’m sure he was just kidding around.” “But maybe he was worried that my jacket would shed on the black coats. Now he’s going to think I’m a big jerk.” “Erin, trust me, he was joking.”
Now it seems so ridiculous that I found Robert intimidating, and I have so many fond memories of that time at the Broadview. I had just moved to Baltimore from Almaty earlier that year, and after a lonely summer, I had found myself dating an amazing man and making two wonderful friends. Looking back, I’m sure the four of us thought we had plenty of stress in our lives (looking for jobs, grad school, a job lay-off, residency, medical school, wedding planning, etc.), but really, it was a fun and carefree time.
Today, as we get ready to celebrate Jon’s 35th birthday, there is a huge hole in our hearts. Robert would have turned 36 today, and, well, things just aren’t the same anymore. Last year, the four of us celebrated the boys’ birthdays at a lovely French restaurant. This year, family and friends will gather for a toast and cupcakes to celebrate Robert’s extraordinary life. Although I wouldn’t take back the numerous wonderful hings that have happened between 2003 and 2010, I kind of wish for the carefree time.