Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Parting and A Reunion

Currently. I am at the Schneider facility in Seville, Ohio, just south of Cleveland, waiting until I can deliver the load I've got in the morning. I'm in my first week of being on the road solo after Terry went off the road to move to Arkansas a almost 3 weeks ago.

This may be a rather long entry, depending on how much of what's been on my mind to write actually makes it through the keyboard to the screen. I'm mostly going to talk about Terry's leaving and about my own special reunion with people that are as precious to me as any in the world.

The Parting. The last few weeks on the road with Terry were simultaneously a mixture of joy and sadness; on the one hand, I was trying to savor every moment, treasure every experience we had together during those last runs together; at the same time, most of the time, those happy thoughts would turn to sadness as I thought, “this is the last time we'll come through here as a team” or “next time I come here, I'll be driving alone.”

On Wednesday, April 22 nd , we pulled into Dallas with our last load. We spent most of the day cleaning out our truck we've had for two years. Terry loaded all his stuff into his pickup, and I moved all my things into the storage unit we've had since last year in Dallas.

Those last moments before Terry left were sort of anti-climactic in that we were both distracted with trying to get all our stuff situated; Terry was anxious to get on the road to his new life in Arkansas, and I was focused on a reunion with people I love in Dallas.

We ate a last meal at Whataburger, one of our favorite places to eat in Texas, and then, in a moment, he was gone; I was alone, the past two years already fading into memory to be treasured for time to come.

Parting Post Script. When I finally got back on the road exactly two weeks after Terry and I went our separate ways, my first load took me from Dallas to Little Rock. How fitting on so many levels for my first load to take me right to Terry's back yard. We got to spend a little time together last Wednesday evening, enjoying a meal, and then sitting in my truck – for a second or two, it seemed almost like old times.

Terry is doing well, adjusting to his new life in Arkansas with his typical grace. He's adjusting to his new job, as well. All in all, things are going well.

He has mentioned his possible intention to write a final entry for this blog at some point. I hope that will be forthcoming in the near future. Stay tuned.

Happy Reunion. As I have mentioned in this blog before, I spent some of the happiest years of my life living in Dallas from 1983 to 1991. And I have never stopped feeling like Texas, and especially Dallas, were still home in many ways to me.

When I lived in Dallas, I had many friends and acquaintances, but none more special or close to me than a woman and her kids whom I first met in March 1985, when I was in ministry working at First Baptist Church while I was studying theology in school. From the time I met them, they were like family to me, and Rosa's kids were as much my own children as if they had been my own flesh and blood. They were, for all practical purposes, my kids, and I called them so.

When I left Dallas, and them, in 1991 to move to Chicago, I always thought I'd eventually come back to Dallas to live. Instead, I stayed in Chicago at JPUSA for several years, fell in love with my beloved Charlotte, moved to Florida for 10 years, never seeing Dallas or these people I loved during that time.

And, in those days before the internet and cell phones, it was almost inevitable that we would lose touch over the years. And so we did.

Then, in 2002, when I was at the lowest point in my life, having been sick, and losing my faith in God, my marriage, and all that I held dear, I somehow was reconnected to them, and for a glorious, too-brief, two weeks in December, 2002, I was home with them again. That time with them may have saved my life.

And, after 11 years, nothing had changed. Oh, the kids had grown up and had kids of their own, but for us it was as if we picked up right where we left off in so many ways. I was still their Allan and they were still my kids.

Sadly, I lost touch with them again after that when I went back to Florida. Until about a month before Terry and I were going to quit teaming together. I got a message through MySpace asking if I was the Allan who used to know so-and-so.

And, during the past weeks, we have passed through Dallas a few times, and I've gotten back in touch with my family in Dallas, to my eternal joy. And, after another six years and more, I find that things are the same as they were: my place in their hearts and their place in mine remain unchanged over time.

So it was that when Terry decided he was leaving the road, I decided to take some vacation time for the first time in about seven years, and spend time getting to know these people I love again. It was a wonderful time, and I not only spent good time with my kids and their kids and their mom, but I also saw others dear to me that I haven't seen in years or months: Stretch and Orie (I met Orie and her two daughters, who are as my own girls also, the very same time I met the others; Orie and her girls lived upstairs in a duplex and Rosa and her family lived downstairs; how ironic that I met them at the same time and have retained or reclaimed those ties over the years); my cousins Chris and Deb and Maegan, whom I last saw on my trip to Texas in 2002; and my good friend Billy D., whom I have seen several times over the past few years up in Paris, Texas.

Words fail to convey the significance of these people or this reunion to me, and its possible implication for my own future. For the first time since driving a truck, I am seriously considering moving back to Dallas, something I always thought might happen at the right time someday. If my finances didn't keep me chained to road right now (which chains are welcome to me, since I still love being on the road and doing what I do), I would without hesitation do so now.

I will have more to say about all this at the proper time.

On the road solo. I thought I'd never get on the road solo. For a month I was trying to work out with Schneider two simple details: getting assigned to a new dispatcher and finding out whether I'd get to keep our old truck or would be getting another. Even after I was supposed to be back on the road, these two issues were still in play. If that was the kind of experience I'd had with Schneider regularly, I would have left a long time ago. Thankfully, my experience has usually been better, and it usually seems like someone other than Moe, Larry and Curly are running things in Green Bay.

Finally, last Tuesday, I learned that I will be on a dispatch board in Charlotte until they move me down to a board in Atlanta. And I would be getting a different truck. I was put into a temporary truck in Dallas, which I took to Indianapolis, where my permanent truck was waiting for me. So, in three days, I moved all my stuff into and out of two trucks.

But, my new truck (a 2006 straight-shift, an adjustment after two years in our 2007 automatic) seems to drive well, it's in decent shape from what I can tell, and it sleeps good. It's a place I can stay for a while.

Reading. It is appropriately ironic that the book I'm reading right now is titled simply Solitude by Philip Koch. I'm enjoying it a great deal.

Mad” by Ne-yo. One thing that being around my kids and grandkids in Dallas brought about was more exposure to hip-hop and rap music than I normally am around. Hip-hop and rap aren't my favorite kinds of music, but one song by hip-hop artist Ne-Yo has quickly become one of my favorite songs.

I link to a video of the song with lyrics that's on YouTube here: “Mad” by Ne-Yo.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .


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