Moving to the Bay Area has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I wanted to be on the west coast, I wanted to utilize public transportation again—I didn’t want to be bored anymore. The most important reason for my cross-country trek is of course, the fact that my older brother Ryan lives in Oakland.

For the last eight years or so, Ryan has lived somewhere “far” away. Even with his physical distance, we remained close and talked to each other everyday. I never felt like he was far away, until I visited him and left.

It was almost two years ago when I visited Ryan in Oakland with Adam. We stayed in Lake Merritt and Ryan would later ditch us to see Iggy Pop with a girl at “Burgerboogaloo”. . . All of this aside, it was Adam’s first time in the Bay and it left a lasting impression on him. He decided then and there he wanted to live in California. When we left San Francisco, I watched as we flew over Oakland and I cried. I’ve never felt that way before when I left a visit with Ryan.

Hanging on to that sentiment, moving to California became our working goal.

Fast forward two years later and I live four miles away from Ryan. He celebrated his 31st birthday this past weekend and I watched him blow out the candles on his cake. I can’t remember the last birthday Ryan celebrated where I was physically present. Maybe it was his 16th birthday? I honestly can’t say.

This year for Ryan’s birthday, he invited his friends over to his house to eat guacamole, play video games, sit around a bonfire, drink wine and eat chocolate strawberry cake made by Laura. As Ryan’s friends poured in with gifts and balloons in hand, I was reminded of the way he makes people feel. He has the gift of bringing people together and more importantly, making them feel comfortable in his presence.

Now that I see him on a daily basis, it’s evident to me—the life and support system he has built for himself out of thin air. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of how he befriended such high-quality people not only in California, but all over the place.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is: people with those qualities Ryan has seem few and far between. Truly good people are hard to come by, let alone across the country.

Happy Birthday.