|Little girls in Big Trucks/photobucket|
It was 1969 when we first met. We were five but weren’t very close. That lasted until our freshman year at Thornridge High School when Jan sat behind me in biology class. Our conversations began because I had a crush on her neighbor. I began pumping her for information about him.
It didn’t take long to realize we were kindred spirits. On the outside our interests varied a lot, but inside we were and still are so much alike.
Jan’s biggest interest at the time (besides boys) was trucks.
I’m talking big rigs. Other teens had posters of rock bands in their bedrooms but Jan had posters of Peterbuilts and Freightliners. And her plans included those trucks. As her father before her, she was going to drive a truck for a living when she grew up.
At the age of twelve, she began driving the thirteen-gear rigs in the company parking lot with her dad sitting beside her.
It was the late seventies and driving a truck was cool thanks to the movie Smokey and The Bandit and the top forty hit Convoy. It didn’t take long for me to catch the urge to drive a truck.
Jan and I had it all planned out. We were going to team as drivers until I fell in love and got married. Then I would stay home and have babies and re-join Jan on the road when they were old enough for me to do so.
Jan, on the other hand, never wanted to get married or have kids. She fully expected a man to be in her life, but he was going to have to be okay with her being on the road.
Yep, we had it all planned out. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
First, my parents moved our family across the country to Texas in 1979. That didn’t deter us though. Even with one thousand miles and a whole new culture between us our friendship didn’t suffer. Second, Jan got married and had her first baby at seventeen. She had four kids and was married for twenty-five years.
I , the one who was going to stay home and have babies, didn’t marry until I was thirty-one. This was despite the ambitious nagging from my family. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get married. I just didn’t find the right one for the job until then. Of course, my kids were learning to walk and read while Jan's children were navigating high school.
Eventually those “best-laid” plans got lost in the file labeled “forgotten hopes and dreams."
Life happened many times over.
FORWARD TO THE PRESENT DAY
Jan got a divorce. After dealing with the mental and emotional stuff that goes with a major life change, Jan suddenly realized that she was now free. But not just in terms of the divorce. Her kids were on their own now and the only person she had a responsibility for was herself.
Like a light bulb suddenly ablaze, it hit her that she could now make her dream to learn to drive cross country in a big rig a reality. The future was looking brighter by the minute.
After checking several companies, Jan chose Swift. She applied to their school and went to Phoenix for classes. In no time at all, she was living her passion. And she loves it as much as she thought she would .
One day I got a call from her and she said, “Guess what I’m doing now? Guess what kind of job I have?”
It had been so long since we talked about it that I couldn’t fathom what it could be. I was shocked, but not suprised, when she blurted out that she was living up to the nickname given her by my dad, “Trucker.”
What an unexpected joy to hear your friend is living her passion!! I know just what it means for her to do this. Not only is she living her dream, she’s finally living life on her own terms.
Jan went from her dad’s house, to marriage. She had never lived on her own without someone else whether it was her parents, husband, or kids. Now all she has to do is take care of herself.
It wasn’t long before she asked me to come out on the road with her. The wheels in my mind started turning. I treasure any kind of travel, especially cross country road trips. I love to go new places, see new things and meet new people.
One thing or another kept me from going over the last couple of years though. But thankfully her travels have brought her to my home in Fort Worth on several occasions. Over the years any time we spent together was when I’d visit Chicago and had to put her on the “to see” list along with a couple other friends and an abundance of family.
One day I realized everything was in place for me to make a trip with her. All I had to do was call and say, “Come get me.” And she did.
On July 25.2010, my husband drove me to the location in Arlington, Texas where she was dropping off a load. As we buckled in our very comfortable seats way up in the rig, Jan and I looked at each other and realized just how long this trip had been in the making.
At the time we initially made the plans, neither of us could have imagined where we’d be in life or when we would actually ride together. It took one thousand miles, thirty-two years, and a partridge in a pear tree but we finally made it.
And what a ride it was. Stay tuned for upcoming columns about the actual trip.
Claire will return with another segment of her journey next Tuesday.For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at the Washington Times as well as her blog Sustenance For The Mind. Claire is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.
*If you enjoy adventure and travel don’t miss a few of my fellow columnists from the Washington Times Communities:
Jaquie Kubin writes, “Donne’s Travel World,” and Ruth Hill writes, “Contemporary Christian Travel.”
Two adventure filled columns are “Family on Bikes” by Nancy Sathre-Vogel and “Payne-Full Living” by Matt Payne.