Freedom

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The afternoon was cold and foggy – a typical summer day in San Francisco – and Gary was glad he’d grabbed his heavy jacket on the way out the door.  Traffic was a mess, as usual, and he shivered a bit as he carefully wound his way between the lanes of traffic.  Lane splitting downtown struck him as having more than a passing similarity with riding a motorcycle through a mine field, except the mines moved unpredictably and would occasionally vent their frustration by trying to swerve into him to block his progress.

On the one hand, he felt like he should be shocked and dismayed that people would attempt to murder a complete stranger because they perceived him as “cutting in line” even though lane splitting was perfectly legal.  On the other hand, Gary’s opinion of humanity as a whole was low enough that he couldn’t work up anything approaching genuine surprise.  Sure, he thought, most people are decent enough most of the time if they can connect with another human one to one.  But the moment they stop thinking of you as a person and start thinking of you as a “car” or “motorcycle” or “internet comment” the claws and fangs come out and we’re right back in the jungle.  We may claim to value kindness and empathy, but most people just want to get theirs most of the time.

He squeezed his brake to slow down abruptly and avoid crashing into the idiot talking on the phone while making a left turn into oncoming traffic, and let out a sustained blast on his horn as he wove around them and up onto the on-ramp towards the bridge.

To ride a motorcycle well requires being aware of not only ones self, but of everyone around you – the teenager having a screaming argument with her boyfriend on her cell phone and moving erratically.  The trucker who is bigger than anything else on the road and lets his size compensate for the fact that he’s been up for 20 hours straight and is driving like crap.  The middle aged man texting with his mistress while he steers his luxury sedan with his knees, lost in a fantasy that doesn’t involve a grouchy wife and 3 mouthy kids who stubbornly refuse to shut up and do what they’re told.  Bubba in his lifted oversize pickup who might ride dirtbikes on the weekend and let you by with a wave and a smile… or might take out his frustration with his dead end job by casually swerving in front of you.

The whole thing was just ever so slightly terrifying. And since fear can help keep one alert, he figured that was a good thing. Still, if there was an undercurrent of fear the dominant emotion was unbridled joy and exhileration.

As he wove through traffic, Gary couldn’t help smiling as the stress of the day fell away. The rush of acceleration, the subtle dance as he scanned for hazards and deftly avoided them, and – most of all – the knowledge that she was waiting for him at the other end of the ride.

Learning to fly

Posted in Life | Tagged , ,

Today is Ride to Work day so I wanted to share the story of how I started riding a motorcycle.

I have always loved motorcycles and I’ve never felt really comfortable on 4 wheels.  I rode a bicycle everywhere through my teens and most of my 20’s and didn’t really start driving a car until I was 26.  I also tend to let my thoughts wander and get easily distracted by music, passengers, etc.  Let’s just say I’ve never been the best driver.  Knowing that about myself, I always figured I was better off to stick to a car since at least I had a seatbelt, airbags, etc to protect me.  So despite being an avid bike-watcher from a young age, I’ve only recently started riding. Continue reading

Tacos!

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Tacos!!!

She said the word like it was the ultimate answer and within it he could find any truth he might seek. Her eyes shone with laughter at the look on his face and he smiled back. He hadn’t been sure about being a father and still lost sleep most nights worrying about whether he was doing a good job, but when Molly laughed it felt right. It felt like home.

“Tacos it is then!” He said it like he was introducing a rock band and the response was no less enthusiastic.

Above them the train clattered along it’s tracks and the bridge shook like an over sized dog who’s just escaped a bath tub. Out beyond the overpass the rain came down in heavy sheets muffling sound and painting the world in great splotches of grey like some monochromatic impressionist painting.   But for now at least they were warm, dry, and had enough to eat for dinner. As far as his little girl was concerned nothing else mattered.

As he pulled the pans out of his backpack and lit up the little butane stove he thought to himself:

One more day. We can do this, just one more day.