By: Jeremy Balkin

Growing Up

A teenager rides his bicycle. It’s 1974 and he’s on a highway in the suburbs of Memphis, TN. His friends ride along with him, unburdened by the facts that 1: They’re riding their bikes on a highway, which could result in immediate death 2: No one can remember the last time any words had been exchanged between themselves and any parental figure, and most importantly 3. They don’t know how to ride bicycles. Regardless, they continue to ride. Zigzagging between lanes. Falling over. Dodging traffic. Not valuing the lives they’ve currently put in the fate of murderous 1970s automobiles.

Twenty years later, as an (alive) adult, the same man drives his son to school in the suburbs in Houston, TX. He makes sure everyone is buckled up, there’s enough gas in the tank, and that the driveway is free of oncoming traffic. His comically-large car phone securely connected to his car’s power source and his beeper secured to his belt around his freshly-ironed slacks. He tells his 12 year old boy about easier times when he would ride his bike down a highway with his friends.

Twenty years after that, I drive my son home from the hospital. It’s 4 days after his birth. His car seat securely connected to the car. My eyes securely on the road. The car is exceeding 4 miles per hour. I think back about those car rides with my dad.

Connecting to Our Past

Every generation looks back to the one before it as a sort of golden age, with everything that happened before idealized, and everything yet to happen uncertain. In reality, the truth lies somewhere in between. We’re all part of one single story. My father riding his bike with his friends on a highway in the 70’s is just as much a part of me as my distant ancestor riding his horse into battle in ancient Rome. Ignoring the fact that I have no Roman ancestry whatsoever, my point remains.

Filling in the Gaps with Genetics

DNA testing is another tool that helps us connect with people in the past. It can be a bridge that confirms your connection to the people that came before you, or a template for what constitutes you. People have moved across oceans after learning the information. It can sometimes tell them more about themselves than a lifetime of searching ever has.

One of the greatest things that has happened to me in my adult life has been opening myself up to genetic genealogy, both personally and professionally. Whether you’re looking to find others or yourself, a community across the planet is now at your fingertips, waiting to tell you more about yourself.

Though my dad didn’t have a destination in mind on his bicycle, and these times seem even more uncertain, the closer we become with each other, the more fulfillment I think we’ll find before we reach the end of the road. Genetic genealogy is still a brand new thing. An unfinished highway. As we continue zigzagging, falling over, and dodging traffic, we are all unknowingly mapping out a singular story for all of us.

About the Author

Jeremy Balkin

Customer Service Manager

Jeremy’s bio is super interesting, but he can write it better than we can.