Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hauling Freight

My dad started driving truck when I was a teen ager. He liked the freedom it provided him, and he enjoyed traveling all over the United States. His various wives and girlfriends during that time were not too thrilled with his long absences, nor with his acquiring of more girlfriends during those long absences. My brothers found his new line of work exciting and a bit romantic. I spent a couple of years embarrassed but then just indifferent. They went on many trips with him, and while I often rode in his truck, I had never gone any long distance trips.


At eighteen, I was a bit lost. My recent graduation from a Christian high school had not helped in my planning. It had stripped me of any faith I might have possessed. I was lonely, tired of my mom's mood swings, and wanting very much to be different. A chance encounter with a friend's ex-girlfriend introduced me to an artsy, alternative crowd. And a job at a summer camp lead to hanging out at a college radio station. I dyed my hair black, shaved half of it off, and pierced my nose. My mom refused to look at me, and called my dad. I ended up on a father/daughter road trip to the Bronx.


My dad didn't refuse to look at me, and didn't seem overly horrified over my appearance. He kind of raised his eyebrows and asked what was up with the hair but he did it with a kind of laugh. Then he didn't say another thing. Not when we stopped at truck stops where red neck drivers looked at me a bit horrified. Not when we went into stores, and people were rude to me. He just acted like it as normal. This was both a relief and a disappoint. My dad, who normally was very concerned about appearance of normalcy, didn't give the reaction I wanted but I also knew that it was an acceptance that most of my family couldn't give me.


We didn't talk too much at first. We listened to music. Old 70s rock. I chatted inanely when he started to go to sleep, or lit cigarettes to help him stay awake. After running out of the inane, I started to talk about my confusion over the future. I didn't know about college. I was sick of school, and I have no idea what I wanted to do. I told him about how I felt trapped in Maine, and wanted to live in a city. I told him about things were rough with my mom. How she seemed to hate me, and was always angry. I told him about not having many friends. By the time we got to New York, I had purged myself. He didn't say much but he listened, and maybe that was really what I needed at the time.


The New York I saw that night is the New York that still stands out in my mind. It was very late as we drove the truck through Manhattan. The lights trailed up to explode into dark sky. People in various forms of dress and undress were still wandering out from clubs and into their homes. Even this late there were a lot of cars, and my dad had to carefully maneuver his truck through the narrow streets. Once in the Bronx, prostitutes jumped on to running boards of the truck offering their services. It was nothing I had expected, and everything I wanted. I wanted to live someplace like this. My dad hated it. He complained bitterly about the crowd, the noise, the dirt. He told me his dreams then. How he wanted to live on some land in upper state Maine. He wanted a small farm, some workhorses that he could work. He felt trapped by his job.


That morning, the truck parked nose to tail with another truck, part of a chain that snaked around a median, I slept in the bunk with my dad. I had never slept with my dad. In fact, I only have the fuzziest memories of cuddling him, or hugging him. I lay awake for a while, his feet by my head, listening to him snore. This person who listened to me, who felt similar feelings to mine was really a stranger. A stranger. My dad. Yet those few times when we were together, I felt this deep connection to him. I liked him. I liked talking to him, to being with him. And maybe this was why I was so angry. I was more than angry because he had left me. I was angry because I should hate him. I should resent him. And when I wasn't around him it was easy to feel this way. But when we were together, I just felt content and happy. I felt like I was with someone who understood me. My pain came not just from abandonment but from losing the parent who was like me. The parent who instead of refusing to look at me, just shock his head with a knowing smile.

9 comments:

John B-R said...

This is beautiful. Interestingly, it comes at a time when Ernesto and I are deep into a collaborative poem that has just moved into the realm of "parents." Food for thought aplenty. Thanks.

Jon said...

This was amazing. Wow.

Coincidentally I just spent the day traveling to and from the south coast with my dad, talking about all sorts of things. Sometimes it's just important to talk, isn't it? Even if really it solves nothing, it helps to clear things up.

Thank you.

Jon

Catherine Crachat said...

I loved the photos with the kids on the truck! Is that your dad's truck or someone else's?

Ginger, did Horacio ever tell you about his teenager dream - just after reading Dharma bums, if I remember well, of getting a truck and crossing the whole continent?

Un abrazo

Jess said...

This reminded me of driving with my dad back and forth between Farmington and Boston during college. We had our little rituals (certain places to stop, call my mom, eat dinner, get coffee). Sometimes he would bring my grandfather with him along for the ride. My dad never complained about the 8 hours of driving (in one day) it would mean for him!

Did you drive with him the one time to New York or more often?

Ginger said...

That would explain why H was so excited to ride in my dad's truck:)

And that is my dad's truck. He drove through Charlotte a year ago, and spent the day with us.

I only went on that one trip Jessica. I wish I had asked to go on more but I went through this crazy stage and just kind of didn't contact him.

The Bear Maiden said...

Ginger that was beautiful and moving, and comes at a time when I need to understand the father/child bond from another perspective. Because I HAD my dad... I had his undivided attention and a good portion of his time. And the Sun does not... and he needs it, I know, but its hard to let him go...

Thanks for this.

The Bear Maiden said...

Oh, and P.S. You still have the most amazingly beautiful kids I've ever seen...

Ginger said...

Thanks Bear Maiden. I'm glad it gave some perspective but ya know for all my dad's issues, he was never overly violent or hateful and he really could be trusted with us. But I do understand Sun's desire. I'm hoping so much that it the jerk can pull his act together...my dad regrets nothing more than having not had a relationship with us.

kevin said...

牙醫,植牙,矯正,紋身,刺青,創業,批發,皮膚科,痘痘,中醫,飛梭雷射,毛孔粗大,醫學美容,seo,關鍵字行銷,關鍵字自然排序,網路行銷,關鍵字自然排序,關鍵字行銷seo,關鍵字廣告,部落格行銷,網路行銷,seo,關鍵字行銷,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,自然排序,部落格行銷,網路行銷,網路爆紅,牛舌餅婚紗台中婚紗,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,中古車,二手車,中古車,二手車,高雄婚紗,街舞,融資,借貸,借錢,小產,雞精