Dear Delilah…

An open letter to Delilah Rene, the (now) nationally syndicated radio DJ

Dear Delilah,

Last night, I had some extra time before I had to pick up Margaret from work, so I took the kids on a tour of Dedham. (It was on the way.)

I passed the house where you used to live, where we once cooked homemade scrambled eggs and hash browns for breakfast, where Margaret and I once napped together, and you demanded to see our hands to make sure we weren’t engaging in any hanky-panky under the covers, where once you and I said goodbye, and you pecked me on the lips, a sweet, friendly kiss that meant nothing except “I like you, because you’re my good friend,” and it made me feel loved. It’s odd the tiny events that stick in my mind.

I passed the church where we met, the spot outside where we hugged and cried after Re died, the church where Margaret and I also met, and the house across the street where I lived, where Margaret once slept over, and I cuddled up next to her on the sleeper-sofa on a dozy Sunday morning, sending my mother into a mild panic.

I passed the apartment of an old flame, where I almost lost my virginity, but I couldn’t remember exactly which apartment it was, and passed the home of an old crush—the passion I felt for her drove me to despair and insanity, before you lifted me out. I didn’t stop to say hello.

Just rolling down those old streets brought back so many memories, so many feelings.

Of course, I had to dig through my old letters and journals and papers and memories, in order to write some of these stories in Love through the Eyes of an Idiot, and I was at first surprised at how many old feelings that brought back to the surface. But what surprised me more was what I discovered, piecing together my own history from the words that I myself had written so many years ago.

When we met, Delilah, I had given up on love. I was convinced that women were only out for themselves, were incapable of loving me, that no woman would ever accept me, the me who I was, that I would never see my needs for female affection and attention ever fulfilled.

Then you asked to spend time with me—probably without even knowing where I was at. You told me I was funny and fun to be with when I relaxed and allowed myself to be me. You seemed genuinely appalled at how the girl who had broken my heart had described me. (Or at least how I had described her description of me.) You said I was sweet and gentle and didn’t have even one lustful or exploitive thought. When I asked you to accompany me to the company holiday party, you accepted, and you accompanied me, and you stayed with me, and you paid attention to me, and then you sincerely thanked me for the privilege. You lifted me out of a lovesick depression and taught me it was okay to love again.

You were my big sister, Dee. I never had a big sister, not until I met you. And I didn’t even know how to feel toward a big sister. I remember the day I called you, from the church-office phone, and I ended up in tears because of my loneliness, and you were the only person I could see who might be able to alleviate that loneliness. You may not even remember the conversation, but I do. You sounded so sincere, almost grieved at what I was going through. But you told me straight out that I tended to foster feelings for girls before knowing whether they were able to return them, and that’s why I was hurting.

At the time, I didn’t understand. I was even offended. But you were right. And as it turns out, that’s the one big thing I did differently with Margaret, which allowed me to meet her and allowed me to fall in love with her and she with me.

There were other people, too, who shaped my understanding of love. My father, most significantly. But as I look over the story, from the beginning through to the end, you were my climactic mentor. You were the character who touched me at that critical moment and made it possible for me to succeed in my quest.

I don’t think I’ve ever sufficiently thanked you for the role you played in my life. Thank you, Dee, for being my friend.

After all these years, our lives have of course drifted in separate directions. And I’m overjoyed with how mine has turned out. But you will always hold a special place in my heart, because of the kindness you showed me.