My Birthday

amor fati – a letter to friends.

· musing

This Halloween, I turn 35 for the 15th time – and even that’s a lie.

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Sydney, 4 years old, always ready to take off. Dressed by Dax of Jermyn Street...

For almost two decades my life and choices have revolved around being a devoted, if slightly flawed father and uncle (and don't even start on the husband flaws).

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Catalina and Anna, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

I have one snapshot that reminds me of what I enjoy best of myself – the traveller, in the middle of nowhere I knew, chest naked to the world, with nothing much to my name except what I began with, and exactly what I’ll be taking with me when I leave this earthly life...

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Northern Syria, same Omega watch I bought on 5th Avenue (I'll leave that behind)

I had one memorable birthday in my adult life, thrown by my ex in the brilliantly appointed triplex I owned in New York City. I wore a Tito (of Yugoslavia) T-shirt and horsed about with 40 friends and family, but this time of Covid is different.

Instead, I’ll drink with friends and family on this side of the world to celebrate love and hale comradeship, and the gemütlichkeit ('loving concern,' no need to Google) I’ve held throughout my life for those to whom I'm deeply devoted, and whose devotion I've enjoyed.

To you, I say this: When I was happy and thrilled by dizzying existence and all it offers, you knew about it. You also knew when the Black Dog was gnawing at my heel and howling at the moon. Thanks for your patience for both sides of this dime that occasionally turns on a whim.

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Brooklyn Babes, Anna and Catalina, Cheever Place, NYC. Coats by grandmother Bobba.

This is a good life, the one I've had, and am having. Not very conventional, and a modest one in most ways, but rich despite my disinterest in wealth. I gambled and risked, never said no to work, stood up to braying, bullying, and braggadocio Goliaths, and loved massively and with abandon my fast and brilliant friends – and some beautiful women (thanks for that ;-)


This birthday I’ll harvest and eat honey from bees I raised this past six months of lock-down.

I’ll kiss my beloved, chat with friends, and cook meals for everybody (spaghetti Bolognese, what else?).

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Anna, corn flowers, Belorus

I’ll finish a short story I’ve been working on about Sergej, a man I knew in Sarajevo who danced with and loved Nureyev and then, like his lover, eventually died of HIV, still too young.

I’ll take a regular walk along an isolated bush track in the Ku-ring-gai national park, where I usually only see wallabies, cockatoos, and goannas, and where the air is fragrant with flowering Eucalyptus.

Then I’ll drive bloody fast in this turbo-charged über cool Volvo C30 I’m digging, despite the fact that I’ve been fined 4 times in the past month (Catalina, 17 years old, reckons that she and I will be getting our licenses at the same time).

And as Tagore wrote, I'll be mad and drunk and "go to the dogs."

But, after two of the most grievous years, which have now passed, I’ll think on two present things as I do each day: The first is gratitude, especially poignant in the pandemic world.

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Stop. Always. Manhattan

And the second is amor fati, that is, a love for my Fate, held lightly and closely to me for whatever it teaches, reveals, frustrates, obscures, or doldrums. For as the Sugarman says, “Nothing beats reality.”

Above all, I simply wish to thank you, my beloved friends and lovers, and those family who stayed close through every folly and prize. You know exactly who you are, and what you mean to me, because I’ve always told you unabashedly by letter, by voicemail, in conversation, during nights of rugged partying, and locked in embrace that was physical, intellectual, spirited and animal.

Gracias for everything you gave, and all you allowed me to give in return. At a word, as always, I would swim the roughest seas to bring you succour, or just a coconut of love.

Much of that and more ahead.



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Australian made. Bellingen, northern NSW, 2020

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Post Script. Anna and Catalina, Sydney, Halloween Day, 2020