I have been playing the game of life longer than I want to admit, and I still don't know what I am doing. The depressing part is, once you shave your head to hide the color and sparseness of your hair, people expect you to know what you are doing. To escape that, I have thrown myself into a life revamp, of sorts: new job (same company), more sleep, less drink, more variety, less rushing from one thing to another. I have still no idea where I am, how I got here, or where I am going, but if writing is the only damn thing I am good at, maybe I need to do more of it, and if writers are the only people around which I don't feel like a gnat, maybe I should hang out more with writers, and if I ever want to find a measure of serenity, I have to learn to play yin-yang with the unrelenting terror inside me--and because life gives you lemons when you need them, I've been catapulted into the perfect practice for that.
Five weeks ago I found out that a close in-game-only friend of mine, who had been silent for a couple of months, had passed away in an improbable and meaningless accident. She was one of the most kind-hearted people on this planet. I loved her. Very much.
Four weeks ago, I came home from work, and in the driveway was a truck, and on the truck bed tied up was this mean looking, gorgeous black motorcycle. My friend and neighbor climbed out of the car and said, "So, how do you like my new toy."
I immediately launched into a lecture, the kind you give your friends but (theoretically) never your kids, about how dangerous bike riding was, and that he would kill himself because he was reckless, and didn't he learn his lesson ten years ago, and a lot more of that … I spare you the details, because I am merciful and also, because I have a limited word count.
I went on for quite a while, and then had to breathe in, which means I stopped pumping out words, and he just looked at me with that open smile of his that forces you to be honest with yourself, and I realized, that really, I was just jealous.
"I am just jealous," I said.
"Well," he said, "it just so happens that there were actually two bikes to look at, and this other one is a really good deal, but it’s blue. Would you like to go see it." (The lack of a question mark is not a typo. He stated a fact. And blue is my favorite color.)
So, it was a totally sweet deal, a practically new 2005 Yamaha R6 for a ridiculous price; it fits my body perfectly, and, yeah, it's shiny and blue, too.
Once the bike stood there, in the driveway, I realized that the idea was that I should actually get on this supercharged expression of mechanical perfection and ride it into the sunset at breakneck speed, my heart singing in tune with its 600cc engine. My stomach exploded into a flock of butterflies that jammed up my throat in their eagerness to escape certain death. The last time I felt like this was when I had gotten myself into performing music publicly, and the time before was the last time I let myself fall in love. It is also the feeling of pushing your kayak off the rocks into a roaring white river, or, more familiar to most people, the mere thought of jumping out of an airplane (usually, with a parachute).
I don't know whether I'll keep the bike, but I do know that I will learn to ride, because it's something I've always wanted to do. People die in these shitty ways (this is my tie-back to the beginning), and it's all random, and maybe I'll die in my sleep tonight because my brain decides it's done being in my crazy head, so, I better allow myself to experience the things I want to experience while they are available.
I did get on the bike that first night and rode it, seven miles-per-hour to the library parking lot a block-and-a-half down the road. Overly cautious and risk-averse as I am, I took an excellent class, which, in addition to unnecessarily hammering into my head how dangerous motorcycling can be, also taught me fundamentals on a bike that’s easy to ride, and gave me a chance to practice where I didn’t have to worry about cars, pedestrians, and ducks on the road.
Riding this bike is hard. Very hard. I often ride late at night, because the traffic scares me more than the dark. I went out once with my friend and pushed the throttle to 50 miles-an-hour. I felt the wind push against my chest and lift my weight off the seat, and for those few seconds, I felt like I was flying.
I wish I could be less timid and fear-riddled and ,“relax, dude!” to fully enjoy the ride life gives me. And this is exactly what this bike is teaching me, because it’s the only way to ride it.