39.

I’ll be returning home when this blog is posted. Traveling back to Pennsylvania from Minnesota. Old home to new home. Two little boys in tow.

Taking a road trip with two young boys is a little like turning 39 – angst and exhaustion. Uncertainty and anxiety.

Take this old man body. Please.

I’m kidding. Don’t take my body. It’s in good shape. Only a few gray hairs. Good blood pressure. A boyish smile on my wrinkling face. 39 years later and I’m still kicking. And screaming. And living. Just like my boys.

***

I like road trips. Driving and drinking coffee. The rolling fields of Wisconsin. The green mountains of Pennsylvania. The choking traffic of Chicago. This land is your land, you know. My land too. It’s not, really, but whatever.

We survived our journey home. The boys got to see their family. Hugs and kisses from Grandparents. Aunts and uncles too. Bouncing on trampolines with their cousins. Hotel pools with dad. Good fun.

I got to see my family too. Hugs and kisses. Craft beer. Played with my friends. That sort of thing. Ring in this new year. 39 down. 65 to go. My great-grandmother made it to 103. I’ll beat that record. There’s the afterlife to look forward to as well. Lots more in store.

Yes, and.

***

Dad told me a funny story during our trip. Well, he told many funny stories. But here’s one:

Dad lives in Eau Claire now. He was sitting by the river. Enjoying the view. Tinkering with his car. A man came up to him. The man had brain damage. Or something. He talked with a slurry lisp.

“How you doing?” the man asked my dad.

My dad was not doing great. Anxiety, it turns out, runs in the Tanner blood. Give us a symptom and we’ll imagine 10,000,000 causes, each one more catastrophic than the last. There’s historical trauma in these Jewish genes. Further, you shouldn’t ask a Jewish person how they’re doing. They’ll actually answer you. “How much time do you have?” is a great way that I answer the question.

Anyway, Dad looked at the man skeptically. Standoffishly.

“I’m okay,” Dad said with a grimace. “How are you?”

“Oh, I’m always good,” the man said with a great big smile. And then the man went on his way. He really was good.

My dad was struck by this exchange. Here was a man with some pretty serious problems. And he’s always good. And the man wasn’t just saying it. It was true. So what can you make of that?

I can make something out of it.

I can be always good too. That’s something to figure out. To work with. Especially as 38 turns into 39. And etc.

***

This summer has been busy. And it’ll keep being busy. Adulthood keeps being busy. No way around it.

But I’m 39, not 38. Not 28. Not 18. It’s on me to figure out how to adjust. Not run myself ragged. Not promise away all my time.

Take my commitments. Please.

I like the things I’m doing. Lots of good things are happening. But I need to monitor my enthusiasm. Spend myself more gently. I know that. And I ought to spent more energy considering the good and not worrying about the potential bad.

I’m always good. And you can too. Or something like that.

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