A little happy birthday story.

I write about this guy named Ernie and his beautiful wife Kristen and their wonderful twin daughters a lot on this blog. Today I want to tell you the story of how I know Ernie, because TODAY IS HIS BIRTHDAY!

Ten years ago, I signed up for MySpace, this new site where you could make friends.
I added the 8 or so people I knew, and then wondered what would happen with it.

A short while later, I got a friend request from some musician. His name was Ernie Halter.
I was so excited to finally make a MySpace friend.

Turns out, a girl I kne w from a John Mayer message board was friends with Ernie. She saw that I’d added him on MySpace and assumed I was a fan, so she’d tell him about me. and then he’d comment on my page. and I went through a rough like 10 years of my life where I was really unbearably weird. I did weird things like make Ernie books all about why he should come to the Northwest.

i'm weird // stephanieorefice.net

I know, you guys. I freaking know. I’m an only child with limited social skills, give me a break. But it was okay, because Ernie thought it was funny or something and I’d get things like this in return:

and finally, Ernie came to the great northwest and we met at the now dead Music Millennium on 23rd.

ernie halter // stephanieorefice.net

Over the next few years, he’d come to play shows. Once he played in Seattle, but he flew in to Portland and I drove him up so we could have the car ride to catch up. Another time he came for a college conference and stayed the night at my house so I got to see him for four hours. and then sometimes I’d travel to see him. Like when he toured with Charles Kelley (the lead guy of Lady Antebellum!) and we had this super fun week on the East Coast.

and later that year, Ernie & Charles played with my other friend Dave in San Francisco, so I hopped on a greyhound and made sure to be there.

Hear me on this: I have always been a huge fan of Ernie.

but a few years ago things changed completely. He got married. and then had two beautiful twin girls. I stopped by for a visit when I was in town shortly after the twins were born. He answered the door and put a baby in my arms and for the next 5 hours I was absolutely smitten with little Layla Halter. Kristen was there, and she was making no-bake cookies, but I didn’t really know her or talk to her. I just started at Layla. When I left, my heart hurt in a way I had never experienced before. I’m not a huge fan of babies, but something about the one I’d spent all afternoon holding got to me.

Ernie, Kristen + the girls moved to Nashville shortly after that. Two years after the first time I’d held Layla, I flew to Nashville to spend a week with the Halters. During that week with Ernie and his family in Nashville, my life changed. My priorities got re-wired, my friendships got re-prioritized and I knew my life would never be the same. 


There was this moment earlier this year when I was in Nashville. The girls were running around being crazies, and Ernie asked me if I would have ever imagined I’d be here, in his house in Nashville, watching his twin girls twirl and sing and dance. and I shook my head. I never would have imagined it, but I am so grateful. I am so grateful for Ernie bringing 3 of the most important girls of my life into my life, but I’m also grateful for the way Ernie has whole-heartedly loved me for the past ten years.

He was seen me through so much, has stood beside me through so much, and is still camped out in my corner, rooting for me. Knowing that he is on my side makes me believe I can do really big, scary things. He is one of the best people I know.

and so with all of this I’d like to wish Ernie Halter, the brother I never wanted, a very-est happiest birthday. Thank you for being my lighthouse.