My grandparents lived ‘up der in da Nort’ where more pickups dotted the landscape than the corn. At the ripe old age of ten, and from my four-foot-eleven perspective, the only thing more disturbing than those old, dirty, smoking, noisy pickups, was the old, dirty, smoking, hairy human that was sure to be behind the wheel. I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those things. Or maybe only.

            Then one day, I met a truck driver…

City Girl meets Country Boy is a tale as old as time, but no one can convince me that God wasn’t laughing as He launched me into a diesel-fueled lifestyle. My ambivalence turned to surrender the night a pile of us piled into a pickup. Not one of the thirteen of us had a seatbelt on as we headed to the sledding hill. Tubes and sleds of all shapes and sizes filled the truck bed. Inside, I found myself squished onto the lap of my date, with ecstatic littles surrounding us, loudly anticipating the thrills awaiting them under the stars. Grandpa Larry chauffeured us to our destination without saying a word. The ride home was more subdued, with a few minor injuries and more boogers than I care to remember, but it had been fun. A memory. A memory delivered by a pick-up truck.

            I married the truck-loving boy a year and a half later, and not only did my opinion of pick-up trucks improve, but it turned into a romance.

Our first pick-up as newlyweds made our neighbors wonder if we had driven right off Walton’s Mountain. I will admit, I didn’t ride in the one with the green stripe. Unsightly and rickety as it was, it assisted us in furnishing the nursery for baby boy one. That old oak rocking chair so proudly delivered, still sits in our basement today.

Newer and shinier trucks continued to replace each other over the years, and each one supplied fresher and sweeter memories. Sod was hauled to provide a yard for four pairs of tiny feet. A swing set, wood for a sandbox, and several bikes as those feet grew. Kitty-Cats and eventually full-size snowmobiles. Basketball hoops, swimming pools, and a piano. Bushes, trees, tools, and lawnmowers. A baby’s first word. Pumpkins and apples from patches and orchards. Hauling hay with little ghosts and goblins looking for tricks and treats. Christmas trees and Christmas presents. Lumber for a deck and a picnic table for dripping DQ Dilly Bars in the heat. The first of many puppies, with their kennels, food, toys, and electric collars. Countless loads of trees and branches from summertime tornadoes. Jet skis, fun noodles, life jackets, and swimmers.

I can still see my dad’s pickup pulling ever so slowly out of our long driveway.  I can only guess how many times I watched him drive off in his Chevy Silverado with grandsons in tow. The trucks traveled the country on camping, hunting, fishing, and golfing trips. Trips to the cabin, trips to baseball and basketball games. Canada, Cooperstown, Colorado. Boys turned men were transferred from backseat to driver’s seat. Truck beds full of bedding for beds in college. Flowers to and from the church on funeral day. Only one dish broke when Grandma was moved to a new home after Grandpa died. The porch swing I’m swaying on now was brought to me by a pick-up.

On any given Sunday afternoon, our driveway is now full of them. Each little boy’s dream come true. The new additions storing up their own collection of stories. First kisses then Miss to Mrs. Combining belongings into new lives in apartments and houses, now homes. Wedding gifts, beehives, gardens and grills. Grandchildren and new puppies have all found a place inside these memory-making machines. The new trucks will travel some of the same old roads, creating different adventures. A few paths will be the same, new memories for some, old memories for others.

The pickups are still noisy, and occasionally one of the humans behind the wheel is hairy, but for the most part, from over-the-moon to over-the-hill, pickup trucks have found their way into the center of my love story.