I feel good.

Maybe it’s the way the sun is hitting this farmland I’m driving past. The scalped fields. The blue skies. Or maybe it’s the way my waitress kept smiling at me earlier this morning.

I was at a truckstop, eating breakfast. It’s a good feeling to eat eggs in a room full of handle-bar mustaches.

Shaniqua was my server. It was on her nametag.

“I’m super happy today,” Shaniqua said. “Just told my husband he gonna be a daddy. He started crying. He’s a big ole teddy bear.”

She was pure euphoria. I wish I would’ve had a wallet full of fifties.

Then again, maybe it’s the semi-truck, carrying pallets of bricks, ahead of me in traffic right now. There’s a giant tarp. It’s tattered, flapping in the wind. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

The driver must know this because his hazards are on. He’s driving slow—probably looking for a place to pull over.

God love him.

There’s a sticker on his bumper which reads: “How Am I Driving?” and “If you don’t like my driving call '1-800-How’s-My-Driving?'”

I dialed the number before I hit Pintlala, Alabama.

“Hello,” the woman’s voice says.

“Yeah, I’d like to report that one of your drivers is quite exceptional.”

“You wanna what, sir?”

“That’s right, just wanna inform you that one of your drivers deserves a fat raise.”

More silence. “Is this real?”

“It is.”

“Okay, I’ll write it down, sir.”

“Happy New Year, ma’am.”

She’d already hung up.

Or maybe I’m happy because of the way my dog is sleeping in the passenger seat. She’s snoring.

Why can’t I be more like a dog? It takes so little to satisfy them. A belly rub, dry food, a quick roll in a foul-smelling substance, and (snap!) euphoria.

I love that word. Euphoria. For years, I used it wrong. I thought it was a continent that Napoleon conquered after he sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492. But I know what the word means now.

It means:

The way summer air turns into winter air, almost overnight. Or how you feel when you see people you grew up with, with grayish hair. Or when you see sharp kids who will one day grow up to be astrophysicists—or if they’re lucky, truck drivers.

And farmland. Average scenery that isn’t average if you know how to look at it. Sprawling pastures that make you say, “Ain’t that pretty?” even though your third-grade teacher threatened to gut you with a pitchfork for using the word “ain’t.”

An old man once told me: “Good days get harder to come by the older you get. Just wait. One day, everything on your body hurts, and life will feel lousy. You’ll see.”


But that doesn’t change the prettiness of today. It doesn’t erase the small farms along the highway. Or the sparkling frost on my truck hood this morning. It can’t change the way 15-year-old Arnold, who has cerebral palsy, wants to be a world-famous chef one day. The same kid who wrote me and said, "I can’t wait to prove everyone wrong.”

It won’t change the way 72-year-old Percy felt when he graduated from online high school last week.

Or the way 12-year-old Dean sang “In the Garden,” for his step-father’s funeral last week.

Or the way a simple grin from a pregnant truckstop waitress can make 50 truckers look like they just discovered teeth.

Oh, yes, Virginia, Heaven is real. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see it. Sometimes the pain of life can make you blind. But when I look at Shaniqua, I see the glory of the universe. I see the greatness of humankind. And I’m glad inside.

Glad that I’m alive. Glad that we’re together. Glad that God looks out for fools and children, of which I am both. Glad that unconditional love is real. Glad that you are still here, whoever you are.

If you don’t like this column, call 1-800-How’s-My-Writing?

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].

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