I turn 45 today.
My daughter thinks I'm an old and ancient man. Not older and wiser. Older and ancient.
I think I'm a young man. I try to make every day an adventure and hope I keep doing this every year. Until I'm well into my nineties. Adventure keeps me young.
She says I still look 30... thank the Universe for daughters. And that I act like I'm 12. So it's all good. Age is just a number.
I suspect she's trying to tell me she thinks she's the responsible adult in the house. I'm fortunate. She has a very responsible streak. Must come from her mother.
A lot changed in my life at 44.
I went from being a vagabond with a bag full of possessions to renting an apartment and buying furniture (although... only a minimal amount. Who knows when adventure will beckon again).
I became a vegan. Although, I now dislike vegans. The Fat Gay Vegan wrote an article about the Health Nuts hijacking the vegan gravy train. Or, rather, the tofu trolley. Now they all seem rather priggish.
If the Health Nuts embrace veganism to live longer, and in the process stop massacring animals. Who cares. FEWER ANIMALS ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED!
When I went vegan, it was to support my daughter. Then my health. Then save animals. Looking after my health opened my eyes to horrific way we humans treat animals.
Now when people ask me if I'm vegan, I say no. Those vegan people are a vicious bunch. I eat plants.
I also wrote a book last year. Fuck editing is hard work. Will I publish it? I have no idea. I've spoken to a few writers. Most of them say they have spent more money publishing than they'll ever make selling... we'll see.
Not all of the goals I set myself at the beginning of 44 happened. But overall it was a good year.
And I learnt a few things:
I like bathrooms with a view.
The bathroom in our apartment has a great view. In the mornings I can take a shower and watch the goings-on on the street below.
No. I doubt anyone can see me. Although, the old woman across the road might have a telescope trained on me. I dunno. Who cares.
I watch the two portly butchers shouldering carcasses into their slaughter house. Next door the ladies open up the pet shop. And on the sign above the door, a rabbit reclines on the grass. Hiding behind her big feet in a carrot induced coma.
How can anyone open a pet shop beside a butcher? Dr. DoLittle Pets vs Hammonds Hackery. Those poor bunnies must be so confused. Are going to a foster home or under the knife?
It's snowing this morning. People pass by wrapped tightly in their coats. While I linger under the warm spray of water.
I'll never rent another apartment without a view from the bathroom.
Seriously... nothing like a bathroom with a view! (Photo credit: Messy Nessy Chic)
'My friend at work thinks you're good-looking,' my daughter tells me. 'She asked if you have a girlfriend. I told her you don't date. Now she thinks you must be gay.'
I tell her I'm not gay. Just too ancient for the complexities of relationships. Relationships are a young persons game. I don't have time to waste on the frivolity of love.
What I actually mean is: Daughter you're a full time job.
The sooner I can throw you from the nest, the sooner I can resume playing the numbers game on Tinder.
That's not true either.
The truth is that any potential match is quickly compared to the woman I love, and summarily dismissed before being given a fighting chance. Which is probably just as well. I'm volatile, self-obsessed and don't ply well with others.
So daughter, tell your friend I'm not gay. I'm just emotionally unavailable.... at present.
PHOTOGRAPHY & ROUTINE
I became obsessed with street photography this year. I go everywhere with my camera.
I've loved photography for most of my life but I was always afraid of taking pictures of people in public. But this year, thanks to Enrico 'Chico' De Luigi,I started taking more pictures.
Actually, I have Chico to thank for a lot of things. He opened his home to us, encouraged me to write and showed me how to 'choose myself'.
If you want to write a book, don't wait to be validated by an editor or publishing company.
If you want to shoot a documentary, just do it.
If you want to run an event: bring value to other people and be part of a profitable outcome.
'The mind is public enemy number one,' he'd tell me.
Now, if I feel like something is getting in the way of 'choosing myself', I try to figure out my way through it. Usually that means giving negative thoughts the finger and moving on.
But I need energy to do this.
So I make sure to follow daily routine – a theory about filling my bucket with inspiring stuff.
I wake up early.... between 5 and 6 am and something inspiring. Then I write at least 1,000 words. Everyday. Most of it rubbish that remains unpublished, but I think I'll publish this. Maybe. I walk my daughter to the train around 10 am. Listen to an inspiring podcast while I take a run. Then at around midday, I start working. By nine I'm in bed and I sleep well.
This routine keeps my energy levels up.
Has my photography got any better? I hope so. A little bit. But I don't care what other people think. It's mine.
On the weekends I write and then I roam the streets of the city with my camera. Hunting for stories. London is full on the odd and the furious.
Last night I took a guided walk, the Jack the Ripper walking tour. I learned that prostitutes picked up their clients outside of a church... about 200 of them buzzing around the Church at a time.
They offered a service called the 4p Knee Knocker. Google it. I have no idea.
You might wonder what a serial killer, prostitutes and a 4p Knee Knocker have to do with freedom.
The event hosted by Internations - a community of Expats.
Afterward, 7 of us gathered around a table in an East End pub - an Italian, a German, a Sri Lankan, an American, a Brit, a South African and a man from Switzerland. All of us well travelled. Each of us longing for something we'd found in some past place.
Some of us are nesters. Some of us drifters.
Some of us find comfort in familiarity, some of us find comfort among strangers.
This is what I learned at 44.
My spirit is happiest when it's free to explore...
Whether spying out the bathroom window, roaming the melancholy streets of Istanbul or drinking Guinness in an East End pub with unfamiliar faces.