I don’t know what came over me. I just heard myself say… I’ll buy it. Without hesitation, I agreed to buy a 1996 Chevrolet Silverado Truck. I hadn’t been shopping for a truck. I never even considered considering it. But there I was, wanting it to be mine.
Was it the color? For sure. Bright candy apple red. Was it the brand? No. Not at all. It was a Chevy and I was raised in a Ford family so this move felt a little outrageous for more than just its circumstances. Because I am 55. And female. And I already have a car… or two. But something inside moved when the thought struck. This truck… with 130,000 miles and a couple of quirks… didn’t fit the previous owner’s life anymore. Ok, his garage. So it needed to move on so that he could move on. Like me.
I am on my 3rd move in the last year. The first one was out of my “big house” that I had gotten in my divorce settlement. We had built it together over 15 years ago and it took me over 2 years to sell it. The second move was from the apartment I had rented as an intentional temporary stop while I built a new house for my new life. But… my new house’s completion didn’t line up as expected with the end of my lease, so I moved everything I owned into storage and rented an even more temporary, furnished place. Every time I moved, I rented a truck. I took loads to storage and to Goodwill and Restore and to my grown children and that was my plan, again. To hire muscle and rent a truck.
But… sometimes life gives us what we need when we don’t even know what to ask for. While in this temporary place and head space, the prior owners of this truck contacted me to help them move into their condo. They had downsized from the farm house I had helped them redecorate 6 years ago and needed help making the new space work for them. And that’s kind of my super power… being able to see how to make things work. They had faith in my skills due to my prior experience with them and I needed a project to fill my time while waiting for my house to be done, so it was perfect. I had grown quite fond of this couple and so working for them again was an unexpected delight.
When I pulled up to their new home on that first day, I knew which place it was because there was the truck. It’s kind of hard to miss because of its color but it’s always been an iconic statement for the owner. You see, he bought it, brand new, about the time he was moving on to a new life in 1996 —and not by choice. His career had come to an end and so I am sure that the cab of this truck got a good “talking to” — and not because the speedometer is sticky. It has carried the load of his grief and his anger along with hay for his horses and “help” from his grandkids. But, I don’t believe he got carried away… his reputation for integrity and strength has allowed time to tell its truth and so perhaps he now gets the chance to stay put and enjoy the ride. So maybe that’s why the truck didn’t fit anymore — his garage may have gotten smaller but his life and his experiences just keep getting bigger.
One day, while working to hang the memorabilia from this big life on his office walls, I happened to overhear him talking about trading it in on something smaller. That’s when it hit me… I was supposed to buy the truck as a vehicle for my moving on. Yes, in a physical sense — but also in a spirit-of-independence sense. Because whether it’s an experience or an education, a good book or a good cry, or a really great pair of shoes or a really bad rebound relationship, we all need a vehicle for moving on. We need something in which to encapsulate those things that either have to go or stay and then just head out into the unknown.
That unknown became clearer for me the day I took the truck home with me. In the days leading up to the transaction, he changed the oil and washed it and then put it into the garage to keep it nice for me. As he handed me the keys, he gave me instructions on the lock and unlock buttons, then he showed me how the tailgate needs a little lift to open it up and how the speedometer needs a little whack now and then if it sticks. I looked in the back seat and there were ice scrapers. He had left his Garmin navigational device in it for me to use. And then he made sure I was buckled in before I drove off. I looked in my rearview mirror to see him and his wife standing in the street watching me drive away. Yes, I was taking his beloved truck but I think he knew it was time. What he could not have known was what that time meant for me.
I had never gotten a moment like this from my own dad. My parents divorced when I was 12 and then my dad committed suicide when I was 28. While I had been allowed to take my grandfather’s truck and my mother’s cars – my dad had been basically absent from my life and so we never had one of those paradoxical parenting moments when you don’t know if someone is feeling protective of you or their truck.
All I know is that driving this truck has made me really happy in an unexplainable way. I just like it. And I had no idea I would enjoy it this much. It’s been a “where have you been all my life” kind of thing. I realize I may look a little crazy to my new neighbors but I am used to tuning out what people are saying about me after growing up in a small town. I mean, I realize that I must have been a little grouchy over the last couple of years as I have been dealing with moving and moving on. And I am used to “mis-hearing” things — like when I was 5 and my mother told me that the letters F, U, C and K were just “duck” spelled wrong. So that must be it… what people have been saying. What people say about women of a certain age who are not it a relationship. And now I agree. I am so much happier…. because all I really needed was a good… truck.