In My Ohio

​On Turning Thirty-Four

Darren C. Demaree
​Next Tuesday is my birthday. On that day I will be thirty-four, and with both feet solidly in my thirties I imagine the number of times I am still treated as young person will be minimal. So, as I approach that level of permanent adulthood, I am still left with some questions that were never answered in my more youthful times. I feel compelled to ask them now before it’s too late, and I am eventually found out to be less than.

​How do you drive a car that isn’t automatic?

​There are a clutch and a gearshift; that much I know. The rest of the process is a mystery to me. I have a few friends that can do it, but I’m pretty sure my parents couldn’t do it either. Is it genetic? Anyway, driving a car that requires that kind of dedication has always appeared to be slightly magical, the same way whistling seems to people that can’t whistle. Well, I can whistle, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make it down High St. in a car that wasn’t automatic.

​Why does every one want to go to the Grand Canyon?

​This has always been beyond my comprehension. I understand wanting to see an ocean, the power and size of it is epic. Is it the same thing with the Grand Canyon? Or is it the opposite? Is the vacancy of all that rock supposed to inspire or frighten you? Surely the idea that sort of natural effort combined with time will make you feel powerless, why is that a great thing to experience? Somewhere in those questions is the answer, or is it as simple as saying you’ve seen the Empire State Building? It’s a qualifier of you as a traveler, and an act that allows you to join in with the other people that have seen it. I don’t know.

Why is doing your taxes the example of the most boring thing you can do?

​Taxes take three or four hours. It’s repeating numbers over and over again, but you end up doing that a lot of the time anyway. Normally at the end of doing your taxes you get some money back for your effort, and then there is an entire year of not having to do them again. It’s a slight annoyance at best. Pick your four favorite albums, listen to them while you do it, and if you can avoid typing the lyrics to Sun Kil Moon’s “Carry Me Ohio”, then you’ll be fine. It could be that I don’t have the most diverse of portfolios, and that if and when I ever have “real” money, it will be an all-day task akin to the tests of Hercules. Here’s hoping I get to find this one out.

When do children become a burden?

​Having two children is an incredibly time-consuming, physically demanding part of my life, but I haven’t once felt that my life would be easier or better without them. As long as someone can watch them every week or two that is enough of a deep breath for me to get right back into it. I assume once their actual defiance begins (mine are two and five) then they will more trouble than they’re worth. Then, it’s not about the good effort and the time you spend with them, but about managing the wild swings of their development. There always seem to be parental gripes about children, I’ve got some pretty gross stories about my darlings, but I felt those are much more like a rite of passage than a burden. Who knows when they will start telling me to back off, or when they will steal twenty dollars from my dresser drawer? That won’t be easy, but it won’t be terrible either.

Why do older, male neighbors always talk like cult leaders?

​I have three older, male neighbors and the only pronoun they use is “we”. We went to dinner. We bought a new hot water tank. I’m pretty sure one of them isn’t married, so it’s not the royal “we” in reference to his Queen and himself, so why the we? At a certain age are you more a part of the community organism that an individual functioning inside of a community? Also, why are they always recruiting me to either join the Catholic Church or try to remove President Obama from office? I’m not doing either thing, but they seem pretty sure my efforts are being misplaced if I’m not joining their cause. They all wear the same pair of New Balance shoes; maybe that is the indicator of the larger conspiracy.