Happy Birthday

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“What do you want for your birthday?” At 44, it’s a throwaway question, because none of it is really going to happen. You get a card and a cake and move on, another day, another year gone. At 44, you start to want less and think more. The birthdays coming fast, years tumbling over the ledge. You begin to look back as much as you look forward. There are things I’d like today and there are things I’d like from yesterday.

For starters…

I’d like a studio office in the back yard, one with skylights and horizontal spaces, one where the spring breeze comes through one window and out the other, where inspiration and creativity mesh into brilliance.

I’d like a hammock. And an afternoon to use it.

I’d like this book to write itself, but with my pithy words and flare for language, OK, I’d like to become Hemingway.

I’d the like the deer to stop eating my flowers.

I’d like to lose 10 pounds, without working at it.

I’d like the garden to run itself – planting, growing and blooming in a symbiotic dance with nature.

I’d like to ride the 1997 Colonial Cup again.

I’d like to stop urban sprawl, pollution and plastic bags at the grocery store.

I’d like another Good Night Shirt, I wouldn’t sell him this time.

I’d like Global Warming to be recognized as a health issue and not a political issue, then fixed.

I’d like a driver, one who will talk when I want to talk and let me sleep when I want to sleep. And a Mercedes for the driver to drive.

I’d like Keeneland to build a dirt track outside its Polytrack, giving horsemen and horses three options.

I’d like racing to fix itself, where horses are healthy and racing is a sport again.

I’d still like to do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

I’d like a dog.

I’d like to have read all the books on my bookshelves.

I’d like for Valdez to win at Ayr Saturday.

I’d like a comfortable pair of brown loafers, a new summer sport coat and pants without pleats.

I’d like another Eagle Poise. At 3.

I’d like to watch Cheers, Seinfeld and M*A*S*H for the first time again.

I’d like my wife’s heart to skip a beat every time she sees me, like mine did the first time I saw her.

I’d like my sister back, gone 40 years.

I’d like to be good at Jeopardy!

I’d like to ride races again with Chip and Keith, young and free, with the knowledge that we’d all get out alive and none of it would really matter.

I’d like to stand on top of the Hobacks with Jack Fisher and Brent Harris and then glide down, fit and free.

I’d like to drink a Guinness with George Baker and Matt Coleman, then walk to the paddock and win the opener at Cheltenham. I’d like my brother, my dad, my mom, my sister, my wife and my son to be there.

I’d like British tea, butter, bread and chocolate on the counter.

I’d like to line up at center for the Unionville High School hockey team again, Jay Sapovits on my right, Mike McNally on my left, Jeff Hauser, Matt Epperson and Rick Norwood behind. Don and T.J. Centrella yelling from the bench. Carolyn Heaton wearing my jacket in the stands.

I’d like to ride a bull.

I’d like to be able to run 20 miles, without drawing a breath, hitting that runner’s high I haven’t hit in a decade.

I’d like to go fox hunting with my dad, an epic day that they’ll talk about forever, jumping the big fence on the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup course, the ground perfect, scent inescapable, a day when we finish at dusk and wonder where the day went.

I’d like to see my nephews and niece achieve greatness.

I’d like peace and health for Miles. And mankind.