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Friday, Feb. 14, 2003
February is birthday month.

Perhaps birthday week would be more accurate. A whole host of them are crammed into one week.

Your host here on turned 44 last Sunday. Stuís wife Patty had a birthday yesterday (I have no idea how old she is and she certainly wasnít very forthcoming on the subject), Stu himself has a birthday on Sunday. So does his sis-in-law. And a bevy of fringe people in our little world, all mashed into the same week in February.

So does, for that matter, my middlest child Maggie. My little one, who could spin love on the head of a pin, will be reaching that lovely age that is 17. She wonít be learning The Truth at 17, since she already has that well under control. Iíve never met a wiser or more mature person at her age and donít think I ever will. Happy birthday, Maggie.

And while Patty might want to downplay this or future birthdays on her own behalf, Stu will celebrate his own with the glee of a six year old. Birthdays for my Corporate Partner mean cake and presents and a handy avenue towards ever increasing levels of debauchery. Hugs from random waitresses and barmaids, free beers from the gallery at the Hole, birthday cards from friends featuring scantily clad women and not-so-scantily-clad innuendo concerning his sexual prowess. Birthdays for Stu feature Hallmark moments that are exclamations points on a hallmark life.

I amused myself with birthday math last Sunday. 44 years equates to something over 16,000 days. And if the bible is right and man is given 3 score and ten years to live then you could make a pretty airtight case for assuming that Iím quite a ways past a normal mid-life. Matter of fact, even considering the longevity that runs in my family I know Iím past mid-life. I know it and it makes no huge difference to me.

I tried to remember even one of those 16,000 days. You know, relive all the moments of just one of them. From the minute I woke up in the morning to the very end of the day. And it wasnít the first time Iíd tried to do so and it probably wonít be the last. I canít remember whether or not I shaved three days ago but I probably did. I canít remember whether or not I told my wife that I loved her on day 14,582. I hope so. But in all likelihood I didnít, and moreís the pity for chances left untaken.

There was a day in May, 23 years ago that I can relive about as well as any of them. The day Ally and I got married. I can pretty well put that day on my mental DVD player and spin it out, hour by hour, hitting pause and slow frame advance at will. I know it was a beautifully sunny and warm day, a day the old timers might call a ďreal ham and eggerĒ day. Iím smiling, sitting here thinking about it, a day like any other that was so touching and funny and real, a day I wanted to remember, wanted to etch in memory, wanted to take pictures of and pull them out at odd times in the future. It was a green grass and blue sky day that pulls fresh at the heart 23 years later.

Or nights laying in bed as a small boy, whispering dreams aloud, whispering and hoping that there was something out there ahead of me. I well remember those moments. Laying in a small bed in a small room in blue pajamas, eyes on the ceiling and hands behind head, wide awake and seeing what the future could be. Knowing that it would be good, knowing that there would be good years and hard work and a certain elfin mist to walk through in search of the one true beating heart who lay in her own bed a thousand miles away, perhaps dreaming the same dreams, knowing that she was out there and knowing that finding her would be the quest of a lifetime.

I can relive that moment of a starless night. I could all but know that I went to school the next morning, but I donít know the color of the shirt I wore, or if I wore sneakers or shoes, or what cereal I ate at breakfast.

It seems sad to not be able to have that sort of perfect recall. The ticking, the minutes. The precious time we have. The layers of time that add to all the days of our lives.

Thereís a certain fine satisfaction to enjoying life. Thatís the tagline I put on this journal some time ago, and I do remember the moment I did it, I remember thinking that summarily it was a satisfying thought, a way to look at this whole life of spontaneity and particular seconds in the day that mark you and define you. That out of 16,000 days or so you can draw from the goodness of what you create of yourself and try to forget the bad moments, the mistakes and the tragedy and lonely times. Knowing that there is goodness out there and letting it come to you. It is satisfying, the knowing. The possibility. The chance that a ham and egger day is right around the corner and you might remember to bring your camera with you.

Knowing that, letís just keep that satisfaction between us. For now.

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