WALCOTT, IA - I am currently in the world's largest truck stop. No, really. It's pretty exciting.
Another exciting thing: I just took my first shower in four days. Ah, welcome to life on the road.
The first two weeks of student driver training are supposed to be introductory. The trainer gets loads that s/he can handle alone, with the student along to observe and drive a few hours. After the two weeks, the truck becomes a team truck, which means it never stops moving, with the trainer driving 10 hours then the student driving the same amount of time. In practice, this rarely happens, and dispatchers treat the truck as a team truck from the day the student gets in it.
This arrangement does not work well for a student like me, who ought to go call her truck school and get her money back - at least, according to my trainer. I don't know how to shift a damn truck. I don't know how to shift, period. I never drove stick shift before truck school, and the transmissions my school used are vastly different from the transmissions Werner uses, and I'm lost. It's been suggested I go work for a company that uses exclusively automatic trucks.
My trainer has actually been very nice and honest about all of this. He's a nice guy, a big, bearded, dry-witted man from Michigan. It's a little bit like driving around with Michael Moore. It's not his fault that I suck at this, and he's doing all he can to help me, but it's been a week and I'm still lost.
And with every wrong move I make and every gear I miss, I think about the person I left behind. My heart is not in this. It's not on the road anymore, at least not right now.
It's always been so easy for me to leave. Sure, I've missed people and places, but it's always been a wistful glance in the rearview mirror as I drove away. But it gets harder every time, the weight of previous departures building up to an anchor I carry with me.
Today, driving down the rolling hills of Iowa, I realized that all I'm doing is running away again, as I always do. And I hate myself for it.
I don't know what this all means. I've been two seconds away from grabbing my stuff and walking off the truck for the entire time I've been here. But I'm in Iowa so I can't do it right now. And my mind spins through so many thoughts in the span of an hour that I lose track. And, well, I just don't know.