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Considering Thirty-Nine


I really do dislike odd numbers. I do. It’s borderline obsessive and a little neurotic, but numbers have personalities to me, and I don’t like the odd ones. They’re bossy and domineering.

Don’t try to change my mind on this. It is not rational, and there is nothing more aggravating than arguing with one who is delightfully irrational.

This past week was the anniversary of my first wedding, and Peter said, “What made you choose to get married so close to your birthday?”

“It was an even number in my favorite month.”

My friend Elizabeth understands my love for even numbers, only because she loves odd number that much. On this one fundamental preference, we diametrically disagree.

She is odd. I am even.

Elizabeth wrote me a letter this week, because this is something she and I do. We write letters to one another, based on our mutual belief that a handwritten letter is like a hand painted carousel pony: a long forgotten art that is so hard to come by. In a world of abbreviated text messages, we write each other long-hand letters. (She has sent me two this month. I am woefully behind.)

In this letter, she shared with me her newfound mission to simply consider even numbers.

Not like them, not force them. Simply consider them. Notice them.

She wrote that she had begun to notice things like, “How does the television sound when the volume is at 24 instead of 23? Isn’t it interesting that I like it when there are six eggs left in the carton instead of seven? It has been an exercise of awareness, contemplation, curiosity.”

And so, she said, “With this in mind, my birthday gift to you is encouraging you to consider 39.”

She even included a quote from Dax Shepard’s podcast, The Armchair Expert, where he interviewed Lauren Graham.  And that, my friends, was straight up dirty pool.  She knew it, too.  She knows I unabashedly love Dax, Lauren, their fictional sibling relationship on Parenthood, and most recently, I love The Armchair Expert.  She pulled out all the stops in her efforts to force a modicum of disequilibrium.  Dirty. Pool.  

I have to quote directly what she wrote.

“Now, if this seems inconceivable to you, more an invitation to a mental root canal than luxurious cake with butter cream frosting – consider this:

Dax: I have this thing where I constantly am saying to myself, ‘So you had all these characteristics as a person, that brought you to the dance.  But you’re here. And it’s not necessarily that those characteristics are going to keep you at the dance.’ It’s really hard when a certain personality style has yielded results, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to yield happiness.  So sometimes you gotta, you gotta kind of pivot.

Lauren: I think you constantly have to pivot. I think it is part of growing, and growing up, which I think we’re always doing; is to lose the ideas you had about yourself even if – exactly what you’re saying – even if they have been successful.  Sometimes we’re holding on to something that does not serve us anymore. I don’t know how you identify that necessarily, but I think it always bears another look.”

She wrote, “Tricia, I know us – you and me. We might not want discomfort, but we certainly don’t want boring, simplistic, perfunctory, pedestrian. We will do discomfort for the sake of growth.”

I read her words, nodding along.  It’s true.  She’s right. Go on, Elizabeth.  I’m listening.

And so, dear one, the gift of considering 39…

In the odd, sometimes we find even.

3 + 9 = 12

12 is the sum of the tribes of Israel, the number of Jesus’ disciples, and the number of stars in the crown of the Woman in Revelation.

It is the perfect dozen.

There are 12 months in the year and hence twelve signs in the zodiac.

And thankfully, there are 12 days of Christmas. Because really, who wants a gift-giving opportunity to be limited to one 24-hour period?

And sometimes in the even, we find the odd:

1 + 2 = 3

3 is a prime number, perfect in its indivisibility.

It is the number of the Trinity.

Matter comes in 3 states – solid, liquid, and gas.

There is a special kind of stability that comes in a three-legged stool.

Following the rule of thirds in photography is the difference between a good image and one that takes your breath away.

While still preferring odd to even, I have begun to shift from an either/or posture to a both/and. I have found new possibility in what I previously avoided.

You’ve spoken your preference to be 40 for two years, rather than be marked by 39 for the next twelve months.

I posit that there are secrets in 39 – a number made up of two shapes for similar to the luscious roundness of 8 – that you don’t want to miss!

And remember… being 39 means you’re living in your 40th year.

Happy 39th Birthday.

~ e.

~ ~ ~

And so, today is my birthday. And I am 39.  Not 38 again, not an early 40.  A solid 39. I am open to the possibilities. I am considering them.

(Peter says I am nearly old enough to date him.)

I am nothing if I am boring, simplistic, perfunctory, pedestrian.  So, lay it out for me, Thirty-Nine. Show me what you’ve got. Let’s do you.

(And now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be headlong into celebrating with all things grand and frosted.)

Happy Birthday to me.  birthday

Tricia Lott Williford

Comments are closed

  1. Happy birthday, dear Tricia! And a great challenge to keep growing–to refuse to stereotype ourselves with how we’ve always functioned, even (as Lauren & Dax say) if it has worked for us.

  2. Happy Birthday Tricia ! We share the same day. I turned 59 today. I will embrace the odd with you!

  3. I’m laughing so hard that you’re almost old enough to date Peter ???????????? Happy birthday dear friend!

  4. I agree with “almost 70”. It’s time to be glad there is another number no matter odd or even. My late husband painted real carousel horses both at Elitch’s and the animals on the zoo carousel; thanks for sparking those memories.

  5. HAPPIEST of Birthdays to you…and remember, Jack Benny said his age was always 39— the perfect number!!!

  6. Happy Birthday! What a delight to be 39 but living in your 40th year! I had never thought about that! I turn 70 in a couple of months and find it hard to believe/accept that I am really about to become that old. In my brain I am not that old, however I am…I will NEVER act my age! Celebrate BIG and I know your day will be filled with love, laughter, fun and family!!!

  7. My friend, you are His favorite child and you are eternally weird. I love both of those things about you. HB

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