You asked for it....
We went on the road. I packed my shit up and off we went. I cannot explain to you how much I was looking forward to spending an entire week with trucker boy. Seven nights sleeping with him, seven days waking up to him, his face being the last thing I see at night and the sound of his voice the first thing I hear in the morning. We travelled 7000 km in seven days, 11 states, 4 provinces, $4000 in diesel fuel, I lost count of the cups of coffee after the 534th one...Maine, New York, Conneticut, Virginia, Penssylvania, North and South Carolina, and a few others that are just a blur of highway. I had my laptop with me. On the third night with him I wrote this:
Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. It’s a phrase we often hear used to portray the importance of seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. For the last three days, that is exactly what I’ve been doing. I packed my bag on Sunday, throwing aside the four inch heels, the well pressed pants, and the silk shirts, for denims, sneakers, t-shirts and anything that could be even remotely considered comfortable. Packing was the first challenge. I am what my friends call a “girly girl”. I enjoy painting my nails, wearing skirts, looking feminine. So to try and pack a duffel bag that didn’t include any of those things was a significant task for yours truly.
It’s 9:16 local time, M is in the bunk trying to get some sleep before a long day of driving tomorrow. I tried laying down and my body said, “Ummm yeah, it’s barely dark, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Rather than tossing and turning, keeping him awake, I decided it would probably be best just to get up. So here I sit. We’re parked at a rest stop on the interstate in Pennsylvania. I should be revelling in the fact that my ass is sitting here in Pennsylvania. I have travelled across 4 states today, I’ve seen the Hudson River, I have driven through the beauty of Conneticut and seen more of the country in one day than I have in 37 years.
Yet as I fired up the laptop, I kept my fingers crossed that I might be able to get an internet connection. Apparently there is a wi-fi connection available, I’m either out of range or the huge trucks parked on either side of me are blocking the signal. I feel disconnected. I should be lapping up this new experience but I feel completely disconnected from my life. It has only been one day since we entered the US and I shut my phone off, thereby terminating my connection with friends and family back home. I long to get on face book to see what everyone is doing, I long to text my girlfriends with updates.
Is this something that truckers get used to - this disconnection with normalcy and people? I suspect much like a physician needs to separate himself from a sick patient, a trucker would have to condition himself to deal with loneliness and being away from loved ones, all the while doing a job that gives you more than ample time to think about loneliness and loved ones. I cannot help but question what the fall out is to develop the ability to do such a thing, to compartmentalize the loneliness and missing. I see it in M, his ability to shut everything out but the job. It scares me. I asked him about this very thing. His reply, “It takes some getting used to, once you get used to it, you start to like it”. The man I love with all my heart likes being disconnected. It’s not an easy thing to accept.
And the next day....
So here I sit, in the passenger seat of a truck that’s hauling about 43, 000 pounds of peat moss, barrelling down Interstate 81 in Virginia at 100 km an hour . I have never seen truck traffic like this in all my life…keep in mind small town girl where a traffic jam is a tractor and 4 cars. We keep passing by fall out from the tornadoes that have been touching down through the states. I cannot fathom the fear, the sense of having your life literally torn apart.
And then we hit the Carolinas...
Summer has come to the south already. It’s 84 degrees (and snowing back home), everything is green, the sun is out and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It makes me long to get out and hike what are sure to be spectacular trails among the hills rising on both sides of the highways. M would have a stroke and gag me for the rest of the trip if I even suggested such a thing. A little over an hour before he needs to be at the customer gives us just enough time for a pit stop at the rest area outside Statesville. I grab the sleeping bag from the truck, and after getting cold drinks, I spread myself out on the green grass (still marvelling at the green everywhere) and M sits at the picnic table with his book. It’s nice to be away from the truck, if only for a brief time. And when he looks down and smiles at me from his perch on the picnic table...yeah this is the way life is supposed to be lived.
I am not sure yet how I manage to “forget” the 35 degree heat, or the lush, green landscape that spreads as far as the eye can see, but I do. The air conditioning in the truck isn't working and sleeping at night makes me feel as though we're trying to redefine the meaning of hell. I forget that I am in the south sometimes. Until a sales lady, a waitress, a fellow trucker speaks to me in that drawling, warm southern twang and I do a double take each and every time. I love accents, period. The southern accent with its rich, lazy mode of delivery makes me grin foolishly each time I hear it. I strongly suspect I’ll leave a small piece of my heart in this beautiful state. Oh and white gravy with southern fried chicken and that thing these people do with a potato all mashed with 400 pounds of butter....oh dear sweet jesus how do I get a weekly supply of that sent to Canada?
Then we headed back to Canada, through Quebec into Ontario and back east. The trip home is when things started going awry. No, that's not true, things started going awry when I was sitting beside the man I loved and felt lonelier than I have ever felt in my entire life. That happened on day 3. It just got worse from there....
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