Free the whale(s)

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The last day home is always bittersweet. I’ve written about the home-time love/hate before. I think a lot of people can relate. When we’re on the road I want to be home and when we’re home I want to be on the road. I’ve either got Diesel Fever, or I’m just difficult. (I can just feel Jeff Clark voting for “difficult.” Hush, Jeff.)

We live less than a mile from I-70. I can actually watch trucks pass from my office window, so when we’re home, I sit and moon at the window like a dog waiting to be let out. Conversely, when George was pulling the Laredo load from Springfield every week, we’d have to pass the house without stopping on the way out, and I’d sit and moon at the truck window when we passed, like a dog waiting to be let in. (Side note: I should probably take a second to explain “moon face.” When I was little, my Granny said I had a face as round as the moon – when I stared out into space she’d say it looked like the man in the moon staring down from heaven, or “mooning at us.” Looking back I think it may have been a little sad that my family made fun of me for having a Charlie Brown head, but it’s still a fond memory, and when I see someone staring off into space I always think of Granny and the moon.)

So on our last day home, I took some time to float around in my baby pool and soak up some much needed rays and stare off into space (moon) for a while. You heard me right, I said baby pool.

swimming pool editI bought myself a baby pool this year so I can flounce out to the side yard and float around in a foot of water anytime I feel like it – when we’re home. It’s the one thing I really miss when we’re on the road during the summer. I love the water, and not much of it is appealing enough to swim in around truck stops, unless you’re looking to get the herptafluffa-lupagus disease in your eye. No thanks.

George wasn’t happy about the baby pool. He thinks it’s ridiculous, mostly because he knows me well and knows my skin is very vampire-ish. As much as I love the sun and water, I can only really float around for about 15 minutes before catching fire. He doesn’t view the $18 investment as cost-effective for 15 minutes of fun, before I suffer third-degree body burns and forget about the baby pool and inadvertently grow the world’s largest mosquito colony beside the barn.

I had completed my portion of the “things to do before we leave” list and left him to get his list done. This is where he sits in his office like Captain Ahab with his maps spread out and grunts and points a lot. I think it’s called “pre-planning.”

“I’m going outside to float around in my pool.”

“[Grunt.] See you in fifteen minutes.”

“Whatever. You’re just jealous because you’re a giant and can’t fit into my cool baby pool.”

“[Grunt.]”

I know it was just a grunt, but it was a dismissive grunt, and I was determined to float around under the blue sky in my baby pool for at least 25 minutes before returning to the house, just to prove that grunt wrong.

The sun was beautiful, the water was the perfect temperature, the clouds were puffy and white. I imagined I was floating in the Bahamas somewhere, while I thought about the implications of a speed-limiter law and how ridiculously expensive it would be to implement that in every single truck on the road, including all the pre-electronic control rigs still running. (This is what trucking has done to me.) About 14.5 minutes into the dream-thoughts, my skin began to sizzle and peel, so I decided to flip over and float on my stomach for a while.

I realized an immediate difference in my thought process when my view changed from puffy clouds to having my nose on the side of the baby pool, snarffling up pufferballs from the black walnut tree. They don’t have black walnut trees in the Bahamas. I was uncomfortable and couldn’t help but feel very sorry for Shamu the whale, as I think I know how he feels now, but I wasn’t ready to go into the house and admit defeat. I would have self-immolated like a crazy monk at that point, so I suffered for ten more minutes, trapped in tepid water with my nose and toes pushing the sides of my tuna can container.

Twenty five minutes after leaving, I waltzed back into the house with a flourish and smoking skin.

“I’m back.”

“[Grunt.]”

“I’ve been gone more than 15 minutes.”

“[Grunt.]”

“The baby pool is the best thing ever in the history of the world and I was totally right for buying it.”

“[Grunt.] We’re leaving for OKC at 7 a.m. Be ready. I’m going to get the oil changed. Love you.”

He left me standing there in need of medical attention, but I totally take the love you as a complete agreement with me about the baby pool. I win.

It’ll be good to be back on the road.

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