I wanted you to know how much all of us enjoyed having you home. ALL of us, Sammy, Tioma, Daniil and I all enjoyed sharing laughs and good times with you. We also enjoyed that we got to share your good news, the Goldman-Sachs internship, with you face to face. To tell you with our hugs and our faces that we are proud of you. From the day you got off the plane eight and a half years ago, you set your eye on the prize and never wavered once. You have worked tirelessly, harder than any person I have ever known, and it paid off. I’m proud of you. We are proud of you.
But, would you believe that it is possible to be more proud of you? It is and I am.
A lot of folks don’t know our darker stories, our more challenging times. They don’t know about the time I locked you out of the apartment when it was in the 30’s. You were in shorts with all of your books, being an insufferable ego-centric jerk and I, a single parent who was questioning why I had ever agreed to this. No doubt, we had some brutal knock down drag out fights that year.
You had some with Max and goodness knows how much you loathed the fact Daniil was even walking the same Earth as you, let alone sharing the same air.
Then we hit bottom. It started off as an Eric v. Gleb battle. You knew everything; you were going to Harvard, etc. I worried that you were setting yourself up for failure and that I was failing you. But then, something broke. I’m not sure what, but the tone and the dialogue went from confrontational to intellectual. You went from Harvard only, to open eyes and opened mind about the many other opportunities that existed. You went from only seeing out your eyes, to seeing other’s point of view. Like the spring up North, your world went from the drab grays of one perspective to world filled with color, nuance, and fun. A world with uncertainty where uncertainty didn’t mean the end, but simply the unknown.
From that day forward, your view and your relationships changed and grew. It would take a couple of years, but you would come to understand the answer to the question you once asked, “Why does everyone like Daniil? Why not me? I’m Gleb! He’s just quite and smiles….” You began to understand the value of a gentle friend, the ying to your yang. You began to see that not only could Daniil learn from your success, but that you could learn from his. You could learn to sing and dance for no reason, to turn eating cereal into a party, to listen as well as talk, to be a friend as well as have a friend.
It was a long metamorphosis with bumps along the way. Certainly, we won’t forget the spring break you came home and only visited us once. But, from that too you learned. (And so did I…as you so clearly pointed out…”You aren’t the easiest person to live with…” It is true, and I try to be better…)
So this past month I saw the fruits of all these years of work and it was spectacular. I saw a Gleb who was driven, which was there from day one, but I saw the most complete Gleb I had ever seen. You were both driven and compassionate. You still dream of being rich, but you also know you have a responsibility to others.
On an intimate level, you officially treated us like family. This had started last spring, and I wasn’t sure it would carry over, but it did. It was even stronger. You treated Tioma like a brother, you afforded him the respect he deserves, while still allowing him to be the kid that he is. You didn’t exclude him from you life, but included him. Your brotherly love for Tioma was only rivaled by that of your relationship with Daniil. Six years ago, this would’ve never been predicted, but it is an incredible brotherhood. Seeing you help Daniil with his college essays…that’s what this journey was all about.
Finally, with me…gone were the days of viewing me as the solution to your problems, or a bank account. No, you are swimming in waters with which I am not familiar, and you will soon be boarding your own money train. But, you have found that I can still play a role in your life, and that’s all I want…even if it is a minor one. The afternoon when you and I went out for tacos was the best. You had been stressing out about some paperwork with your contract, even your buddy John couldn’t help you relax. While eating you said to me, “I’m so glad you are here. You know how to calm me down and make me relax. This was just what I needed.” What you didn’t realize was, that was exactly what I needed. In one comment, you had verified that all eight years had been worth every exhausting, frustrating, swear-word-laden moment because you finally paid me back with the currency folks like me thrive on…genuine kindness. You didn’t say it to get something from me. You said it because, for one candid moment, it needed to be said.
So, while I am proud of you for your internship and chasing your dreams, I’m more proud of you for developing into a real man. A man who is constantly growing, constantly changing in an effort to be an even better man. May your wildest dreams come true and may you influence a thousand more dreamers to follow your path.
With all of my love and respect,