December 28, 2011 – Everyone in Texas Drives a Truck
I’m not the coolest sister. My oldest sister Jesse with her degree in physics and her current Zennish state must not seem so marketably cool either. Apparently my youngest sister Michaela holds the spot. This does not come as a complete surprise to me. After all, she does live on a boat. Things don’t get much cooler than that.
Fine by me. I’m only in town for a short time. Although I’ve seen Noah twice already if I don’t jump at this chance God only knows when we shall see each other again (As Hodel said to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and as my great-great-grandmother used to wail each week while wringing her hands when her family left after Sunday dinner).At the right time I load myself into my dad’s dragon-fire red Mini Cooper and feel awfully cool as I zip across town, shifting gears like a pro and turning up the music’s volume from the steering wheel buttons.
“Noah said you have to wait in the car,” she tells me knowing the relationship I have with my brother.“I can wait in the car,” I say. She’s joking, I’m serious. “I brought a book.”
“You are not waiting in the car.”“I will if you want.”
When we get to the T&A Truck Stop we’re a little early. I drive through the maze of trucks yelling out the window for Noah. In the Mini I feel like a grasshopper among giants. I drive extremely carefully. “Noah! Noah, Noah, Noah!” I yell.“I don’t think they’re here yet,” Kim tells me after checking her phone for texts.
I park and we wait.“Noah! NoooooAAAAH!”
Still no brother.“Maybe we can get you a truck driver husband,” Kim says, apropos of nothing.
I scan the parking lot. The truck drivers are mostly large fellows, their bellies hanging down over their belts and their mustaches hanging long down over their cheeks.“Hmm. Is Noah gonna grow a big ol’ mustache now that he’s a truck driver?” I ask.
“I don’t think so.”We wait a little bit longer. Then from across the parking lot we see someone who looks like Noah. Sure enough, it is him. The greetings are both joyful and siblingly. I lock up the Mini as the drizzle turns into rain. Inside the truck stop we get food, drinks or nothing and sit around chatting.
“We’re going to shop for a husband here for Amanda,” Kim says.“You don’t want a truck driver husband,” Noah tells me.
“Because they’re fat and dirty and grouchy?” I ask.“Not grouchy,” Noah corrects me. “Just coocoo.”
“Oh.”Noah takes a sip of a Red Bull, Kim eats her cheeseburger and I take pictures.
“I’ve driven thirty-two hundred and fifty miles,” Noah says. He’s been on the road two weeks and only been driving half the time. He’s been to California, Connecticut, New York, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, and lots of places in between. “We’re going to switch trailers here with another driver. My trainer will call when it’s time to leave.”Since we don’t know exactly how much time we have to kill, we go outside.
Noah lights up a cigarette. Kim takes her spot close to him. I stand up on the bench so I can be underneath the umbrella. It’s raining even harder.
Noah takes a drag, puts his arm around Kim and adjusts his stance. “My trainer is fascinated by Michaela’s living situation. He keeps saying stuff like, ‘Wait, what? Aren’t there bugs?’”I laugh. “It’s not so much the bugs as it is the snakes and raccoons.”
“And the spiders. My trainer told me I could go home if I wanted to while we waited today and he’d call me to come back but I told him ‘No, my sister will be there.’ And he said, ‘The boat sister?’I stand on one foot and balance.
“’No, the Peru sister,’ I told him,” Noah continues. “And he said, ‘Can I talk to her about the boat sister?’”
I lean back on both heels and try not to fall off the bench. “I could talk about her.” After all, she’s told me plenty of stories. About Tank, her German Shepherd, who loves to howl along to harmonica music, of the roiling nests of snakes she encountered, of tugging a stuck boat back to the docks when the lake police wouldn’t, of the strange algae growth that collected in the corner of the slip and looked like alien eggs, of the raccoon that chased her up a fence, of walking the entire marina to go shower in the club pool’s locker rooms, of the weekend and party community of boat people, of the tunneling wind that howls down the docks, of her favorite sound of the clanging lines of the sailboats, and of all the things that have leapt out of her hands and jumped into the lake; cell phones, a bottle of wine, keys, food. Michaela’s life would make a much better reality show than mine. There’s a lot of drama on the docks, and every day of her life holds a story that sounds unbelievable but I know is completely true.
Next to all that I’ve got nothing. So yeah, I guess she is the coolest sister.And to tell the truth, I’m okay with that.