On Thursday, January 5th, my mom watched Clara for an entire day so I could drive to Tallahassee to meet some friends and check out the house we still own. It was a real “Moms Gone Wild” kind of day. I whimsically bought a chocolate chiller smoothie from Tropical Smoothie. I stopped twice for the bathroom in under an hour. An Egg McMuffin breakfast value meal was purchased, and for the first time in I don’t know how long, I sang along to the radio at full volume. I even stopped at a rest area from 5:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. to take a nap in the back seat because I was tired. Every cause and effect centered around me: Tired? Rest. Hungry? Eat. Bored? Turn the radio up.
I often miss being the center of my own universe. While Clara and I were hanging out at the Dulles Airport in D.C., I stifled some resent of all the people reading their books and sipping their lattes as I chased Clara around the waiting area to wear her out before our five-hour flight to Seattle. I even thought to myself with a comforting dose of self-righteousness, oh, yeah, well, I read Girl with a Dragon Tattoo two years ago.
To have a car, beverage, road, and radio station all to myself has been a frequent fantasy. And there was no better way to realize this fantasy than by turning the years back to the night Aaron and I discovered our dirty little secret: we liked the Delilah Show on Warm 94.9. I turned up Delilah and listened to her admonish her listeners to “love someone” and “never let anyone take your joy.” I listened to Becky dedicate a song to Robert because he lights up her life and to Chip talk about how Delilah’s show helped him out of a really rough time after his divorce. Later I heard that Jason has been going to the restaurant where Crystal waits tables for over a year. He said that it was just enough to be around her, but maybe now that she’s been broken up with her boyfriend for a month, she’ll consider seeing more of him. For Jason, Delilah played George Michael’s “Faith.” Good choice!
Sure, it has commercials and self-promotion, but Delilah’s stories are from ordinary people experiencing both a very personal and universal form of love. You’ve got wives asking Delilah if she’ll play a song for their husbands who are struggling because they just lost their job. Sisters dedicate songs to each other. Girls ask for the perfect song to help them move on past the love of their lives (cue Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”)
When I’m chasing Clara around the airport or trying to coax her into her car seat, I think I don’t have enough time to feel everything I want to feel. Listening to Delilah in the quiet by myself, I heard every word of every story and song. But all I wanted to do was call in and dedicate one to Clara. Maybe “Everything She Does is Magic?” “Isn’t She Lovely?” “I Could Not Ask For More?”
There’s a sweet line from a children’s book: “I am your lullaby, you are my peekaboo. I am your good-night kiss, you are my I love you.” I had grown accustomed to feelings staying in one place—an inside place where I could mull them over and enlarge and reduce them as needed. Now, the line between feeling and action is always blurred. Love is baby fingers on my neck, the sound of Clara guffawing at the mountains through the airplane window, helping Clara feed a goat, watching her love and be loved by family. Feelings don’t stay still anymore. They clap and dance and giggle and throw tantrums and ask for candy. If our lives are like songs, then I’m learning how to dedicate mine to the ones I love.