Birthdays Like This Pt. 2

Made it home from NYC Friday afternoon in time to
a) Enjoy the stunning mid-afternoon view of the streams and lakes as the bus wound from Kingston through Woodstock, Shady, Lake Hill and Willow (and yes, those are their real names)
b) Post my rather hazy reflections from Thursday’s long night.
c) Go for a proper run to shake off the cobwebs and prepare for Sunday’s Kingston Classic, and
d) Get showered and changed in time to welcome some of our Phoenicia friends for a local birthday party/spring celebration. This one was far more civilized and childlike than Thursday night’s Manhattan bar-hopping, and though the air was decidedly cold, we stuck it out on the deck until the sun went down. The highlight, surely, was when the various kids, who ranged in age from 5 up to 11, asked for and were granted permission to head over the road to the Village Park. We continued to hear them screaming from several hundred feet away, which we took to be ongoing confirmation that they were alive and well. We would not have had the same nonchalance about the screaming – nor letting them run off to begin with – were we still in the City.

What’s a birthday party without… Popcorn? And cake? The kids are alright, alright.

There were, of course, some decent bottles of wine opened, including a 1995 Chateau Musar from Lebanon’s famous wine-maker, Gaston Hochar, a wine I would drink every time I pop the cork if I could only afford to. There was also some good music on the 6-CD changer, including new albums from Hot Chip and Banco de Gaia (both of which showed up on my actual birthday – thank you Mr. Postman), and Bruce Springsteen. I almost fell out with one of my new friends up here when she started royally slagging off the Boss, but then how many other people can claim that their dislike of America’s Greatest Man stems from going out on a date with him at Max’s Kansas City back in the 70s?

This morning the celebration was consummated when Campbell finally got round to giving me my birthday present – a brand football (and yes, I do mean football) – he’d handpainted himself, presented with the promise that he would play with it with me. He may yet be the first kid to get turned on to the Most Beautiful Game via the Playstation.

I’ve made the point to friends a few times (I may even have made it online) that birthdays don’t always come round when you want them to – especially not the big ones. My 40th hit at a point I wasn’t quite ready for it; I was quite miserable about the whole process. Two years later and this one came round at a time where my life seems much more sorted. Life does not begin exactly at 40 and I wouldn’t pretend, either, that 40 is the new 30 or any such simplistic marketing slogan. But I would say that I’m enjoying this fifth decade on earth, and as long as I don’t have to write down my age too often, I don’t feel it. Cheers.

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November 2021