Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reinventing Self

Clichés like these come to mind when people start talking about riding motorcycles.

  • The wind in my face
  • The open road
  • Freedom
  • Tiny gas fill-ups

All those apply to me, too, more even; but the reinvention of self is really the coolest thing so far about riding. There's this grown-man-kid-inside-of-me grinning ear to ear behind the helmet, loving every second of the experience. Hot, cold, rain, wind, my senses are alive. And that's not a bad thing at all.

When people learn I bought a motorcycle the reaction is usually something like: "Really?" Not the exciting "really?" but the one where people are slightly befuddled. Like I got my nipples pierced, or joined a cult. All I did was buy a motorcycle, but to them the purchase was unexpected for a guy like me, or something out of character.

"You can't!" my older sister said. "I won't let you." She flat out told me I couldn't get a motorcycle. Carrie, a senior insurance adjuster, works claims and has seen photographs, "horrible photographs" from motorcycle accidents.  "People lose limbs!" I asked her if she's seen bad car accidents, and if I should avoid driving cars too. "It's different!"

Is it? She cares about me. That's what I hear.

Mom supports my decision but I can tell it kind of bugs her. A strained smile creases her face when I talk about riding, the proverbial "that's nice, dear" in her voice.  Mom sat with me in the ICU after my stroke. Motorcycle enthusiasm runs counter to a mother's instinct, experience. Okay, so she's not a fan either.

Dad jokes, kids, ribs me. He wasn't thrilled either, at first. But he's a hard one to gauge. The man has a natural aversion to passions outside of work, and fund-raising for the local college (successful at both, actually). But nothing really stirs his soul, like fishing, or traveling, or creating stuff. He has an RV and he camps in it with his bride/cook a handful of nights in the summer. Dad just wants a pile of paperbacks and a pack of cheap cigarillos, and to enjoy both while sitting in the forest some place close to work. He's a work hard, hardly play type of guy. So my motorcycle is something he probably doesn't "get" or understand the need for.

My kids think it's cool, my son especially. His friends ride in a dirt patch by our house and he's dying to try it. Motorcycling is something we can do together, I've concluded. Bonding with my kids matters to me as much as anything else. My oldest daughter is okay with it, too. Her boyfriend rides super cross after all. My middle daughter asks questions all the time, and can't wait to go for a ride when I'm legally able to provide such amusement park thrills.  It's funny, my daughters' friends' reaction to the news was like, "You're dad?!? He got a motorcycle?!?"

He did. And he feels reinvented. He feels reimagined in a profound way. And he'll wrap up this blog post in the third person. He's not just one thing, or a couple of boring things. He's many things, vibrant and not boring at all.