Monday, August 29, 2011
Truck Through This. Big Love on the Big Road. By Michael Wagy.
Being a CDL holder for a decade and a half, I have well over 2 million miles under my belt.
After all this while, one finds fewer and fewer elements found on the road that really are definable as representative of a "new" challenge-- or at least that’s what I thought.
But today, I find myself in a situation I have no solution to.
It's not typical of the normal obstacles I encounter.
You know, challenges such as the standard maxed-out pair of log books. Or the unexpected roadside DOT inspections, set up one mile ahead, and with no exits beforehand. Today I find myself not worried about tackling snow and ice without chains, or trying to influence the reliability of my bald recaps, keeping them from taking a trip on the wild side.
Instead, my current midlife challenge is not even comparable to the worst of a trucker’s challenge: my trying to make it—in desperation--to the next rest area--hoping to find relief from the jalapeño and Pepper Jack Cheese Hot Dog I consumed earlier; the residual from that last ill-fated TA truck stop. Nor is this current challenge similar to finding out the same rest area is closed.
No, it's nothing like any of that. Those are dealt with easy enough. In fact, today, I'm not even in a "large Car". I’m just in a 4 wheeler. I parked my semi in Oklahoma and borrowed my daughter’s Dakota to drive all the way to Albequrque. I drove to meet another trucker. I drove toward something I can’t quite put my finger on but that I knew might change everything.
Now traveling back home, again across the familiar length of I 40, I write this in the parking lot of "Zone d' Erotica". “The Zone” is an adult book store located in Amarillo, Texas. Famously known as the Triple X, because of the 3 large red X's seen from I-40 and U. S. 287, the towers shine as if they double as airport guidance beacons. Rising out of the darkness, the barned-up, silo-like parts of the building, these X’s, well they seem hypnotic, if not addictive.
I've been here before.
“The Zone” is known among truckers for the cruisy arcade peep show rooms, some with glory holes. The private dancers. The movies. So yeah, whatever. I've been around. I’ve been here before. But today I'm not going inside.
At the age of 42, I must confess I’ve just been taught a valuable lesson by a 21 year-old. I’m lonely and starved but what I'm looking for cannot be found in the darkened spaces of Zone d‘ Erotica.
It also can't be found in the back row of the most popular pickle park, some late night party of need, that occurs furtive and hushed in the darkened corners of the Rest Area. Nor can it be found in the back room of the leather bar, even if that space is inhabited by a perfect muscled-up guy that later can only be referred to as a "trick" for lack of a real name.
I knew this loneliness before, but had never known exactly what “It” was. I could not put into words what i was looking for, but I can describe that what I’ve found to date wasn’t making the grade.
Until now. And how embarrassing is it that a 21 year-old, a kid fresh out of truck driving school, a lad named Josh, has shown me in 36 short hours, what that “missing” thing is.
But here's the problem, I still can't describe it.
I can’t put into words this sense of what life can be, other than to acknowledge that I’ve finally touched it, seen it, and felt it. I’ve found someone who stimulates me in every way. Sexually, yeah sure, but more importantly, intellectually, comically, and in those subtle other interactions I can't spell out in precise lines like my log book requires. I can’t document the exact location of where I’ve just traveled but I know for sure I’ve been there all the same.
I am caught unexpected in this vacuum. My mind spins with emotion. My ability to concentrate, drive, chew gum, listen to the radio, or even consider the consequences of ignoring the brightly lit gas light on the dash, is thrown right out the window.
Instead, my head and heart are reliving the last day and half spent in Albuquerque, at the same motel room that could have been used in a Breaking Bad Episode. I try to reconcile my former existence with how I feel now.
Josh is the most grown up young man I have ever met. Every minute, whether sexual, romantic, or just chatting, or in rest, sitting for hours, watching in awe as he slept, seems a representation of heaven.
I could never tire of it. With him, I suspect boredom is not an option.
I remember sitting in wonder listening to him breathe, guarding the moment, the room, and just trying to be quiet so he could sleep. In my mind, I remain cuddled up with him so long that my arms and legs have fallen asleep. Dozing off, allowing dreams to replace my consciousness, even letting go of him for just a second, it is not an option.
I now think of the miles already distancing us as abrupt as slamming my fingers in a car door. I am used to separation. But now I think, No. Please, just another hour. Or if I dare ask, another day.
Yet these moments end. I drop Josh off at his truck.
I left out earlier this morning. Our separation punctuated with a wave, and a kiss blown from his hand, and then, going, going, gone.
My heart hurts. I didn't want to leave him. I wanted to climb in that semi-truck with him and never look back.
I’ve become a character in one of those almost poetic yet pathetic chick flicks.
I ride off into the sunset.
The blue arrow on his rig’s cab door pointing the way toward a future. It can point anywhere for all I care.
Doesn't matter, because with him, I would always be where I wanted to be.
I wonder will any of this make sense to anyone else but me? Would it make sense to Josh?
Even as I sit here outside this adult pleasure dome, taking up space in a parking lot filled with idling semi-trucks, absent drivers who now take their leave from the miles, the shit food, and the expansion joints. My heart cracks like concrete, and even as my mind blocks my usual ability to function in isolation, the gas light still glows red, the big XXX's tower over me, reflecting a swollen fully engulfed heart back at me, and even as the payback for a Jalapeño Pepper Jack Hot Dog continues to remind me of my bad eating habits, I still, after all this rambling, don't know how to solve my situation.
However, I do know as I put the pickup truck in drive and put the seatbelt back on, three things.
There is nothing in “the Zone” here for me. There are two immediate reasons I need to get to the gas station. And, somewhere out there, Josh is driving into the sunset with his shades on, his hat on backwards, and my heart riding shot gun. All I can do is wish us safe travels, blow a kiss back his way, and try and get through the next 450 miles without anymore unsolvable road blocks.