SITKA -- I keep a framed photo on my desk. Three fishermen crouched on deck, wearing orange Grundens and matching end-of-a-long-day grins. Team ’77: friends born a few months apart, working on a salmon troller that shared our birth year. This picture is proof of the enduring nature of friendships forged on Sitka docks. Boat kids understand impermanence, the ease with which people can wash away. Fighting the opposing tides of our lives, we grabbed each other more than 25 years ago and held fast. We still haven’t let go.

One of my beloveds celebrates his birthday this week. Always a trailblazer, Andrew is the first of us to hit 38. When I try to recall our earliest meeting, more recent memories intervene. Like when I had an ugly breakup; he took me in and resisted saying “I told you so.” Or the full day he spent with a rented rototiller, readying my yard for a garden I never planted. I was a witness when he and his husband married. I call their son my nephew. Sometimes it’s hard to find the just-right birthday gift, but not this year. He’s been asking for my salmon banh mi recipe all winter.

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