Happy 28th, Stace!

I didn't want to get you a card with someone else's words on it. In all honesty, I would have spent less than a minute choosing it and it would have been completely insincere.

So instead I decided to spend some time going back over old memories of when we had the best time together, and capture it so we can relive it again.

I say that's much better than a lousy card. Plus, you can't throw this in the bin. Not without wasting a hell of a lot of expensive colour ink, anyway.

So, let's go back to 2009. The year that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie came out. Just a couple of weeks after Obama had been sworn in as the president, for the first time! Michael Jackson was still alive, as was Robin Williams, Patrick Swayze and Steve Jobs.

Justin Bieber looked like this:

But the most important thing about 2009 was this:

This is the plane that took us to NYC for the first time in our lives. We were finally about to go and live for a week in the city we saw in almost every movie of our childhood.

The flight seemed to fly by. Quite a lot of pretty decent airplane food later, we were sitting in a yellow cab from JFK heading towards the Big Apple.

And $65 later and we had finally arrived. I remember being so excited about the fact we had so much time, no plans, and were finally in the best city in the world.

Also the most dangerous. With hundreds of parasites, armed to the teeth.

When we arrived, I remember we didn't have any expectations about the hotel. We just knew it was in a good location, being on 7th Avenue, and only 3 blocks from Central Park and 8 blocks from Times Square.

To anyone else, the room would be described as dated, nothing special, and a bit shit. But to us, it was perfect.

And you certainly couldn't complain about the view, and that constant hum of activity that makes NYC feel so alive.

Do you remember when we realised that the room effectively came with its own fridge? I couldn't find a picture of us keeping our bottles cold on the ledge unfortunately.

The best bit of the hotel was obviously Park Cafe.

Later that evening, it was so cool walking down 7th Avenue to Times Square and being among all the activity and lights, completely losing all concept of time.

By the way, did you know you posed with the future president?

That wasn't the only big person you posed with.

And neither was that.

In your hands are the best M&Ms ever made. I still can't come to terms with the fact they stopped making them. The bastards.

But back to your posing... it was getting ridiculous. It stopped being an issue who it was, or who was judging you. Or whether they had heads.

Don't you just love New York. Everyone is weird, so you fit right in. I mean you. You fit right in.

But your most inspired picture (mostly because it was my idea) was this one.

It would be unfair to only pick on you, though. What the hell kind of 'style' did I have back then? I have no excuse.

But it was definitely better when we were goofy together, like when we went to Top of the Rock and pretended it wasn't cold for the camera. It was impressive how we made that so believable though.

Remember the time you ordered chicken bigger than your arm? Also, remember real Mountain Dew?

While we're on food, I'll never forget what happened in this picture.

This was in Applebee's, either right after or right before you used tissue paper to de-barbecue the barbecue chicken you bought. Shudder. If you don't remember, I envy you.

We can't talk about food without mentioning John's Pizza. The best place ever.

You could have curled up and slept on that pizza tray. I mean, if it was actually humanly possible to empty it of pizza.

One of my personal favourite moments was when we went to TGIs, and tipped so much the manager came to sit with us and thank us personally, remember?

Speaking of unforgettable places, how many hours of our lives did we spend in Century 21?

That look on your face basically translated into "OK, what kind of mischief can I get up to in here?". And the answer?

The best thing was how we both felt so at home. Here's you just casually strolling through Central Park like you knew the mayor.

And chilling in Park Cafe again.

And pondering life in general.

Moving on, do you remember what this is?

This was the moment in the natural history museum when you forgot the American word for rubbish and had to ask three times before the dude was like:

Whaaat? Oh, you waaanna put the paper in the traaash?

OK, admittedly that was a bit of a difficult question. What about this one?

You loved those shoes. You nearly bought them about 3 separate times before you bought them. Did you actually ever wear them?

Speaking of shoes, I think we went to every single retailer of black leather Converse in Manhattan. Every. Single. One. Probably twice.

Still, that was nothing compared to the reason we ended up in this safe looking neighbourhood at least twice.

Reminder: we were there to find some dodgy phone dude who told you he could unlock that ridiculous celebrity slide phone you bought. Remember that? We risked our lives to unlock that phone. And never unlocked it.

There wasn't a single part of that trip I didn't enjoy and it was amazing to finally live our childhood dream together. While it was the first, I definitely hope it won't be the last.

Kevin! You spent $967 on room service!?


Happy 28th sis!

Love you!

Martin
xxx