Saturday, August 10, 2013

keep on trucking, daddy.


My dad is a truck driver. He wasn't always a truck driver, but he has been since I was tiny, a baby maybe, so that's what I know him as.

I grew up around eighteen wheelers. To this day, I love the smell of diesel. It's been years since I've sat high in a passenger seat, but I remember what it feels like. To be high above everyone else, looking down on cars. Hearing the CB crackle, come alive with gruff voices, swear words, laughter. My dad's handle is "Grump." Appropriate. Sadly.

I spent time in the garage with him and his "coworkers." I'd come home with grease stains on my knees, to my mother's despair. I carried around hankies, stolen from him. I slept in oversize truckers' t-shirts—always black, with eagles and American flags. I fell asleep listening to Oak Ridge Boys and Red Sovine, tapes my dad bought for me.

He'd bring home big bags of laundry. I'd bury my nose in his t-shirts. Diesel and aftershave. He carried a kit bag with him, black leather. He brushed back his wet hair with a paddle brush and when he forgot his, he'd use mine.

We'd pick Dad up from the truck, whenever he called, sometimes the middle of the night. At least, it seemed like the middle of the night. Or I'd wake up to the sound of shaking, rumbling, release of air, as he parked his truck outside of our house.

We'd drop Dad off at his truck, usually at night. I'd hug him goodbye and then sit in the back seat. Watch him climb into the driver's seat. Marvel at how high up he was. We'd watch him pull away or we'd drive away first. I cried every time.

I said goodbye to my Dad a couple of times this summer. Drove away from him or watched him drive away. I teared up.

I said goodbye to him last summer, before I left for China. I was the one who drove away from him. He cried. I cried.

Two night ago, I said goodbye to him for another year. Maybe longer. I don't know if he cried, but I did. I cry every time. And I wonder, does it ever get easier?

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