A gallon of gas costs more than my prescription copay, and I am reminded of the little filling station across from the journalism school at the University of Missouri in what now seems another geologic epoch. That is, 1963.

There was a local “gas war” and — can this be? — I recall the per-gallon price as 18.9 cents.

With savings so spectacular, my wife, Wink, and I (yes, married in college) could afford to step out for the 99-cent special at a downtown Columbia spot called Breisch’s. Jell-O salad and cinnamon rolls to clear the palate and then, maybe, chopped steak — or at least that’s how I remember the menu.

Everything is relative, of course, and it must be noted that, in those days, Wink earned $40 a week as a secretary at the university hospital and, between classes, I provided maid service for a wealthy family at $1.50 an hour.

(Finding I did not adequately execute hospital corners when changing the linen, the woman of the house soon relieved me of my duties and our sparse newlywed economy took a serious hit. So much for Breisch’s.)

Gas prices have dipped slightly but people are angry, of course, and want to blame the nearest elected official though experts tell us petroleum is a global commodity and price spikes are just about everywhere. The other day, for instance, motorists in Amsterdam were paying $6.48. That’s a lot of stroopwafel.

If you want to register existential dismay by yelling at the television screen for seven hours straight, that’s OK, I guess, but it won’t accomplish much more than scaring the dog and prompting your wife to warn she may take that solo trip to Nova Scotia, after all. Just try to settle down.

Part of the trouble has to do with the dreadful Russian invasion of Ukraine and associated petro-politics. Sorting it out is next to impossible but one thing rings true: Whatever hardship the fat gas prices represent doesn’t come close to seeing your apartment house ablaze or sleeping in a subway station for fear of cluster bombs.

How lucky we are.

Boy, how very lucky, I thought to myself on a quick trip to upstate Rochester, where Wink’s older sister, Alice, was recovering from surgery and celebrating her 90th birthday.

We took the Taconic State Parkway, glorious even when trees are bare and hills impatient for spring, and then the Thruway past Albany and west — Rotterdam, Fultonville, Canajoharie, Herkimer, Utica, Verona, Canastota, Syracuse, Rochester.

Across from a rest stop there was a barn covered top to bottom in plaid — a farmer’s sly spoof of L.L. Bean, perhaps — and, inside, travelers headed to Starbucks or checked sweatshirts that said “New York.” No matter what the country thinks of the good old Empire State and its odd and aggressive inhabitants, is there anyone in, say, Idaho, who would turn down a brooding, black “New York” sweatshirt? C’mon, no way.

At the wheel, watching the world slip by, mind unmoored and adrift, everything at once seemed beautiful to me — blue Thruway signs against a woolly sky, an old brick firehouse, a restaurant overlooking the Erie Canal, a blanketed horse at pasture, an Islamic center with golden minaret, a distant town as dusk arrived.

This is old-man stuff — finding significance in mileage markers and roadside updates that say 13 miles to the next rest stop. I’ve become hopelessly sentimental, is all, and in danger of bursting into tears at a pot of pansies or the neighbor walking her hairless dog.

It snowed in Rochester, and I had to chip away ice on the car. But by the time we left, highways were clear. Wink visited with Alice and said goodbye, never easy, and we ate big pieces of chocolate layer cake and sang, “Happy Birthday” with extra oomph.

On the way back, Wink and I stopped in Albany and found our old apartment on Wellington Avenue from — imagine — nearly 60 years ago. Nothing had changed in the little neighborhood, like we never left.

We gassed up — $50 — and headed home, happy and at peace.

In Ukraine, though, bombs were falling, terrible to think.

Not all the world stays the same, I told myself. Not everything is beautiful. Not at all.