It’s hard to even think about my life pre-Delilah.
That’s what I call the period when I was aimless, self-destructive, and selfish: the pre-Delilah years. Let’s do a little thought experiment: squint or close your eyes and imagine a redheaded, overweight man (fine, boy), technically age 25. He’s living on your couch, promising for the fifth time that his brother is working a job out for him at the Vitamin Shoppe he owns, but the paperwork is still coming back. He only mutes the Rock of Love reruns on TV after two minutes of strained conversation to tell you this. No, he has not paid rent or helped out with groceries, and you’re pretty sure he’s using your toothbrush.
Open your eyes. Believe it or not, that guy was me.
So, Tinder Date, you must be wondering why I’m telling you this. You also must be curious as hell as to who on earth Delilah is! Don’t worry, I’m not married or anything. But I am committed.
Let me tell you another fun fact about me: growing up, I always wanted to adopt a highway.
My parents and I would drive down Highway 100 and see that glorious sign: Adopt Today! “Please! Please! Can we??” I’d beg, face pressed up against the window. My parents always shot down my requests with a huff. “They’re way too expensive,” they’d say, glancing into the rearview mirror. “I’m going to end up being the one taking care of the highway once you get sick of it.”
All through college I dreamt of adopting a highway too, but I knew it wasn’t time; I was too busy and broke from my studies.
After college, I hit that rough patch I mentioned earlier. My plans to rush straight to the Highway Adoption Center after graduation were thwarted when my Razor scooter flipped over a pothole and landed right on top of me. Yes, I was on my way to the adoption center. I don’t know if it was fate or divine intervention or sheer coincidence, but something stopped me that day, and I was doomed to weeks in the hospital room with a broken pelvis.
I felt totally depressed after that. Weeks on the couch recovering led to gaining weight, losing a job, and losing all hope. I saw my friends get married and have kids, and there I was still wasting away. I got kicked out of my parent’s place and my brother’s, and became estranged from numerous other friends.
It wasn’t until my last friend kicked me out that I realized what I had to do. As I rode along the road on my Razor scooter (I still didn’t have my driver’s license), I ran into that same pothole. My backpack broke my fall, and luckily, this time my scooter fell to the side. As I gathered my strength to sit up, I remembered what I’d been doing all those years ago when I first tumbled; I remembered where I’d been going. Immediately, I scooted back to my friend and asked for him to spot me on the adoption. Luckily, he said yes.
I was surprised by how many people had opinions about adopting a rescue. ‘Aren’t they dangerous?’ They’d ask. ‘Don’t they come with a lot of baggage?’ To them I say: who doesn’t?
Even more egregiously, some people even think I only adopted a highway to pick up ladies. Well, only time will tell if that works or not. Heh, heh.
Adopting this highway, Delilah, is hands-down the best decision I’ve made in my life. Pre-Delilah, I was drifting through life with no sense of responsibility or commitment to anyone else. As soon as I got her, I had to grow up and stop just thinking about myself. Soon I was up at 5 AM cleaning up her trash, and now I can’t imagine a life doing anything else. Seeing this change in myself, I really believe it’s no coincidence that highway is just “God” spelled backwards.
What’s more, I learned what unconditional love really feels like. Delilah accepts me when I’m blasting music with joy, moseying and feeling blue, and everywhere in between. She’s always there with arms wide open to bring me in. She calls me to be better than I am without even saying a word. That’s why I always try to be the person my highway thinks I am.
It’s a lot of work, but worth every second. When people ask me if I rescued my highway, I always have to pause and think. “No,” I tell them. “She rescued me.”
Whew, I’m so embarrassed! I’ve been talking about myself this whole time! Tell me, what do you do for a living?
This essay is dedicated to “JUST BILL,” the man who personally owns, cares for, and loves a stretch of Highway 97 in northern California (or was it southern Oregon??). Your highway was lookin’ good. We appreciate you!!
4 thoughts on “Must Love Highways”
Much appreciated, my friend!
This is New Yorker quality. Loved it!
Wow–what a compliment!! Thank you so much for reading, Gary!