Today is my dad's birthday. I don't think he minds if people know his age, since it's right there on his Facebook profile. But just in case, I'll only give you a hint: it rhymes with nifty-date. I'll save you having to do the math and tell you that he was 22 when I was born, which seems ludicrously young to me. (Imagine it, I could have a teenager right now.)
When I was 22, I made the momentous decision to drop out of law school and move to Ireland to see if this guy I knew was The One. (It'll come as no surprise to you that he was The One and still is.) My parents were surprisingly cool about this, considering the fact that they'd never met the guy.
I took the Greyhound bus from Camden, NJ to Cleveland, OH to see my extended family before my trip. Then the plan was for my dad to drive me back to New Jersey to collect my stuff. We'd spend a couple of days at his parents' house, then he'd drop me at Newark airport for my big flight.
I was going out of my mind with excitement and fear, the two emotions battling each other in the pit of my stomach. My dad and I were playing pool at my grandparent's house in New Jersey. They had recently moved out of the house my dad grew up in and were living in a tiny house in the same town. It felt weird to be playing pool in a bedroom instead of in their basement. (I always liked their basement, even though it was dark and smelled like mothballs.)
Dad and I were chatting, as you do when you play pool and somehow, we ended up on the topic of my impending move. I confessed to being really scared, terrified that it wouldn't work out or that something bad would happen. Dad gave me the best advice in the history of dads. He said:
You're only 22. I promise you if you follow these three rules, you won't get into any serious trouble:
1 - Don't kill anyone.
2 - Don't get pregnant.
3 - Don't get a tattoo.
Everything else, any other mistake you might make or problem you might have, those are all undoable. It's these three big ones: murder, pregnancy, and tattoos, that you can't undo. Anything else, don't worry about it. You've got your whole life to figure out and fix anything else.
This advice was perfect. Not only did it give me a blueprint for living my life, it also made me laugh and put things into perspective. I was going on an amazing adventure and I was going to enjoy it. Everything would sort itself out in the end, so long as I managed not to kill anyone, get pregnant, or get a tattoo. So simple.
Happy Birthday, Dad-eye. Thanks for all the advice, support, and encouragement.