My parents had a few feminine names picked out, in hopes that their second child would be a little girl. The top contender: Alexis. What can I say. It was the 80’s and Dynasty was trending! My precocious brother Lee, however, had other plans. Upon my arrival, he took one look at me in the hospital and said, “name her Nicole.” Lee, whom I refer to as “The King,” spoke and everyone listened. My birth certificate reads Nicole Alexis Vartan courtesy of my big brother.
Lee has been calling the shots and achieving his goals ever since. It doesn’t surprise me that his life has been an endless success story. A straight A student, he ran and initiated various school organizations, was in every club, and was respected by his peers. Teachers adored him and my parents were enamored with his excellence! I watched him pave his academic journey early, when he chose to go to Montclair Kimberly Academy for middle and high school. While I was socializing, he was diligently studying and strategically planning his future. It paid off. He was accepted to Princeton undergrad and later went on to Harvard Law School. Talk about prestige and accomplishments! I have always been in awe.
While most would allow these triumphs to go to their head, not Lee. He remains grounded, down to earth, and extremely humble. He works tirelessly as a lawyer, is a wonderful husband, and the most amazing daddy to my two nephews. Their adoration and love for him is evident and super sweet to watch.
It’s hard to believe that he turns 40 this month. Sadly, I am only 3 years behind! Where has the time gone? As I reflect back on our childhood years, I can’t help but smile. Endless hours playing in the park, trips to Jackie’s Lemon Ice, and manhunt adventures are vivid and cherished memories. I’ll never forget when he paid his friends to dance with me at the PBC dance. At the time, I was embarrassed, but now I see how protective and sweet he truly was. I am grateful that our bond grew stronger as we matured.
Our relationship was sealed when I came to visit Lee at Princeton. I was prepared for what I thought would be a bunch of “nerdy” intellects hanging around, reciting Shakespeare. Boy was I wrong. The Ivy League can party!!! Lee organized an amazing event and even had Vanilla Ice perform. I had the time of my life. After that weekend, he came to visit me yearly, at Muhlenberg, we talked on the phone regularly, and my big brother was suddenly my confidant. His approval and endless support of my endeavors has made all the difference.
Happy 40th birthday to an inspiring man I am proud to call my brother. I have accepted your status as the favorite child because you really are exceptional. If you were my child, you would be the favorite too! Wishing you a lifetime of continued health and happiness. Some people dream of success, but you get up every morning and make it happen. I know your future will be better than the present because you have the power to make it so.
Thanks for being my first friend. You really are the best friend, I was born to have. “Hail to the King!”