Monday, October 27, 2008
I had a long drive to a job last week and it allowed me time to think. We were cleaning up an old farm and to make the job go faster I put my old truck back on the road. Steph was driving it, following me to the job, and I was looking at the battered, dented 90 GMC in the mirror and my mind drifted.
The old guy who owned the farm never got rid of anything. We were pulling rusted horse drawn plows and 1920's model truck frames out of the woods. Every vehicle he had ever owned was sitting on the property. And looking at it you could see a progression of the mans life. He started with horse drawn plows and moved to tractors then started driving Lincoln Towncar’s in 1969 as he made more money up until he was put in a nursing home when he owned a 1995 Towncar.
My wondering mind went to the stages of my life and my trucks. I have owned four trucks in my life so far. The first was a little 1983 Mazda B2000. It represented realizing a dream. Since I started driving I wanted a pickup and finally I had one. It was small and noisy and I loved it. It was the first truck my son ever rode in. My ex-wife drove it and seized the engine because she didn’t check the oil like I told her. I kept it for 3 years after that and finally sold it to a man who could fix it. I didn’t have time or finances to put another engine in it.
After a bad wreck in 2000 I bought my first real truck - The WarWagon. The 1990 GMC was my first step to financial independence. I started a business, and put the truck to work. I put a camper shell on it and an over the camper ladder rack and went to work doing home repairs. It hauled lumber and tools for two years until I hit the lowest point of my life.
My wife left me, my business failed, the injuries from the wreck started causing me intolerable pain, I was diagnosed a bipolar and put on the wrong medication that had severe side effects, I lost everything I owned, and wound up living in my truck. It represented my only lifeline, my security, my shelter, my home. With a twin sized box spring and mattress, a 5 gallon water cooler, an ice chest, and a little tv, I spent two years surviving. I applied for disability and was denied - it was a fight that would go on till January of 2007. I could have moved back to TN to live with my parents but I didn’t want to leave my three children behind. At least In NC I could visit them. I read library books by the dozen to fight the boredom. I refused to go to a shelter. The WarWagon was my home and as I found out was more faithful than my ex had ever been.
During that two years I learned who my true friends are. I learned my limitations. I found a love of writing. I made new friends. I propped myself up on my cane and learned to fight the odds.
Finally, I got an apartment through a government grant. I wasn’t happy with taking the handout, but I had no pride left. It took me fifteen minutes to move in. I had nothing but the contents of my truck.
I took the camper shell off and began driving around town collecting what scrap metal I could find on the curb on trash days. The truck represented standing on my wobbly feet again. I started making some money and bought a prepaid cell phone. And I drove around looking in yards and leaving notes on doors about hauling off scrap metal and old cars. I bought an old laptop computer and started putting my thoughts and ideas down. I wrote two books that need work and may one day find a publisher.
Finally in 2007 I got the best news since the birth of my children. I was approved for partial disability and I got back pay. I found a piece of land I could afford on my disability payments. I retired The WarWagon and bought the Suburban. It represented comfort and stability.
I met my girlfriend, she moved in with me, and we started working together. The work caused pain but made me feel alive again.
I bought an 84 Chevy S-10 from my brother. He was restoring the truck when I bought it and I haven’t managed to make much more progress that he did. It has sat for a year in the barn untouched. It represents the future. Plans that are unrealized. It sits and taunts me when I see it. It reminds me of all the things I have let slip through the cracks.
And then I was looking in the mirror again. My old truck, my girlfriend coming along behind me. It represented happiness. It represented life. It represented rebuilding. It represented striving for independence. But most of all my trucks represent moving forward - no matter what the obstacle.