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My Life as a Freeway

And it's where you're headed, too.

I am a freeway now.

When my son was very young, he had (and retains) a relentless focus. His ability to concentrate on a single interest for long stretches of time is remarkable to me. One of his early interests was a Volkswagon named Herbie, the title character in a movie called "The Love Bug." We watched The Love Bug and then every sequel Disney ever made: Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie vs. Rocky VII, Herbie Wins the Hunger Games. Once when I spoke at a church and left Johnny in child care, we picked him up afterward; he'd gotten a small scratch and the "ouchie report" listed his name as "Herbie Ortberg."

In this era he was captivated by freeways. We lived in southern California, and I am not exaggerating when I say that Johnny at age 5 would entertain himself at a restaurant by turning the placemat over and drawing a map of the Southern California freeway system that would allow the average driver to navigate her way anywhere from San Diego to Ventura County. It ...

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