there is an occasional weekend morning when i'll pull into the Love's truck stop on the way to work, if i choose to go that way. last weekend i eased my Subaru into a space near the door, and the sadness hit me. ohhhhh. now i remember WHY i feel like this. i've traveled across our country several times, been on lots of trips, been in many truck stops. every time, i get that little tickle in the back of my brain, a tug at my heart, a slight sinking in my gut. it's not just the weary travelers, the tile, the poor lighting, the fact that there are SHOWERS so close to where i have to go poop, SHOWERS with strangers in them just a door down, that at night there are "lot lizards" cab hopping, or even that i've known what that term "lot lizards" means since i was little. no. it's another term i learned when i was six. when i asked about the pretty horses that were given to me, with their bridals and saddles, "________, did you get these at your work?" because "_________" worked at a truck stop. yes, that's where they came from. "how did you get them?" i naively asked, not truly understanding the value of a dollar yet. the reply was simply 'five finger discount.' i went to a more reliable source. "_______, what does 'five finger discount' mean??!!" what?!!! oh, the look on ________'s face, the screaming i heard next. i figured it out. i was so disappointed. and incredibly sad.
when i was entering high school, i had a boyfriend. a boyfriend i would never wish upon anyone. a boy/man who was so incredibly messed up thanks to his bizarre parents. a boy/man who had no respect for women. a coward. a bully. and the truck stop parking lot was just one of several places where i learned to be quiet and not cry so much or i would be hurt. or did that even matter? i was hurt anyway.
after coming to terms with these life events, yes, i can still set foot in a truck stop. i do have to get gas or diet pepsi from time to time, you know. i just didn't think of these things for so long...
i can say now that i am a strong woman. not a naive girl or a scared one. and i take comfort in the fact that my children won't have to get an answer like that when they ask about a gift they receive. and i can raise my daughter to be strong and to never let herself get in a situation like that, she will know she has choices and she will respect herself, and she has a mother who will rescue her, always. i can raise my son to have the upmost respect for women. i can teach them both what LOVE really is.