The open road

You may or not believe me when I tell you this, but 32 years ago as I was lying in traction with 4 fractured vertebrae, 3 broken ribs and a nurse picking gravel out of my ass, that I was dreaming of my next motorcycle (and of course about the hot chick I was going to see when I crashed). I had to dream of the next bike because the one that I had just crashed was a mere pile of twisted metal.

People were amazed that even during my recovery I still loved the notion of the motorcycle. I was unfazed by my injuries, the lure of the open road always called to me since my boyhood days of clutching to my father’s waist as we roared around on his bike. I was barely 17 when I got my first one and only 23 when I had my crash.

I stayed away from the call of the road through my late 20’s and by 30 I was married with no expendable income and a wife that never entertained the notion even if I could afford one. She was amazed that after what I had been through I wanted another and just a bit fearful of me making her a widow. For the time being I had to be satisfied with daydreaming and slobbering over every bike that I saw go by. I craved the wind in my face and driving as if I were a very part of the road itself. I romanticized it to say the least.

Not needing the approval of anyone, I bought one last fall. Once I started her for the first time this Spring, I knew that I hadn’t romanticized it enough. It shook as if it were the heavy breaths of the mighty steed. It required taming and finesse. We name our steel steeds after a woman, because it’s a thing of beauty and at the same time, the moment we lose respect for her it will buck you off. I named mine Bella.

Bella and I have spent a lot of time together and have earned a mutual respect. We have learned to ride the bumps and hang the curves in unison. We are enjoying our trips and are experiencing an unexpected bonus. We are both celebrities and members of a very exclusive club.

Celebrity status comes in the form of strangers asking me at gas stations and stores what year she is and commenting on how pretty she is. In the form of people seeing the helmet and saying “Oh, I’m jealous.” Bored husbands in minivans teeming with screaming rugrats looking at me at stoplights with pure envy.

The exclusive club is other bikers. Apparently, it is courtesy and custom to wave at passing bikes as we zoom by each other on highways and side roads. We all do it. Harleys to Hondas, we’re all in the same wonderful club. And we watch out for each other, should a car mess with a bike it’s a lot like when a hockey player knocks over a goalie. Shit hits the fan as the protectors come off the bench.

I can’t tell you how much joy I have already gotten from Bella. She’s made a routine commute a religious experience. A ride to and from dialysis a complete and meaningful experience. It has become an escape, a way to become one with nature and a way to make an ordinary day one for the books.

I suppose one additional perk is that it is one giant FUCK YOU to those who say that someone in my position shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve had cancer twice, 2 near fatal accidents, 2 near fatal staph infections, a kidney transplant and I’m still going. Nothing has killed me yet, I’ll be damned if I’ll take the “safer” road for my own benefit. I want to die having lived, with a giant goddamn smile on my face.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun is out and Bella is beckoning to me to ride her…

This thing of ours

“Is it love? she asked.
It was so soon
but wonderful
and new
to define
he couldn’t label
wasn’t quite able
to say what “it” is

“Is it enough?”, he asked
that you’re my first thought
when I wake
my last before I retire
that my heart feels
as if it’s on fire
your text, your call
my smile says it all

“But is it love?” she implored
she wouldn’t be ignored
then she was sorry
she began to worry
about pushing him too far
she began to cry
he asked her to stop

What she didn’t understand
his feelings were fine
they were all about her
and her fragile state

“Will you love me someday?”
he had to concede
he was sure in his heart
that this was the start
of the life he desired

“Yes, I will love you someday.”
then asked to pump the brakes
he had weighed the stakes
and wanted to take it slow
to get to know her
to savor the newness
only fools rush in
and only a fool would blow this

First on his mind
he had to decide
if he just wanted to fix her
be a magic elixir
for all of the hurt of her past
or was it really love
on its own merit
what he wouldn’t do
to clean her slate
to undo the damage
her tormentors had given
instead of love

She reluctantly agreed
he knew it incensed her
she was too intense for him
she knew they were destined
she felt the connection
across the many miles

“I love you”, she said
“that’s how I feel”
he wanted to say it
but it had to be real
there would be no return
should he misread
this exciting reprieve
from loneliness for love

“I’m falling for you,” he said
she cried tears of joy
but it wasn’t enough
he was just being tough
she deserved better
he had the power to let her
find happiness at last
he knew what he had to do
and picked his moment

“Do you like me more each day?”
he nodded his head no
“I love you more each day”
“Did you just say…?”
“Yes, my sweet. It is love.”
She was joyous, relieved
filled with delight
He soaked it all in
it finally felt right








Music Challenge

Pensitivity 101 has asked me to participate in the weekly music challenge. It looked interest so I’m giving it a shot.

Time once again for Laura Venturini’s Weekly Song Challenge! Here, as always, are the rules:

Copy rules and add to your own post, pinging back to this post.
Post music videos for your answers to the musical questions.
Tag two people to participate!

Post a video of a song that makes you think of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Trace Adkins, and don’t tell me you don’t like Country, wrote this beautiful song from the perspective of a fallen soldier in his final resting place. If it doesn’t bring out powerful emotions then you may not be human…

this song is a beautiful homage to the fallen hero, in his or her final resting place

Post a video of a song that has the word war in title or lyrics.

this song was conceived while the band was touring Afghanistan and saw the war play out before them. This is for the soldier, about the soldier and the horrors they endure

Post a video of a song that is part of a movie soundtrack that had something to do with war.

this song is not about War, but as a critical part of the soundtrack of Good Morning Vietnam it has taken on a whole new context for me , and I suspect for many more who saw this powerful movie. As it played, horrific, visceral scenes of warfare, carnage and bloodshed that was the Vietnam War played out in front of us. Never has there been such a paradox to have such a beautiful song as a backdrop to senseless death and destruction

I nominate my lovely Bella and Good Buddy Steve if they feel so inclined to participate…

Living

I have gone on record as being divided on how I feel about Social Media, Facebook in particular. I hate the politics and the pursuant hatred and vitriol from idiots with “keyboard balls”. I hate the vague statuses in which some attention hound posts “ooh I’m so mad!” so all of her friends will reply “What’s the matter honey?”. Then there’s the 50 year old housewives doing duckface selfies. Enough already.

The one thing I have always liked about FB is catching/keeping up with old friends. I have deeply enjoyed this aspect of it. Having graduated HS almost 36 years ago I love that I can see what people who I don’t actually see often (or at all) are up to. One such person is Tim. The last time I saw Tim was after we had a fistfight after school in 9th grade. I don’t know to this day why we fought, but it was over quick and he moved soon after. That was 38 years ago. He and I connected on FB about 8 years ago and have been very friendly but never gotten together.

That changed this week. I posted a pic of my new (to me) motorcycle

and several minutes later a IM popped up. Want to ride?
Hell yea, I replied. We worked out the details for Monday, the weather was looking fine.

We met at a restaurant we both knew. He had come from 50 miles south of me and the plan was to ride into the White Mountains of NH where, I think it is safe to say that God himself designed these roads for Motorcycles and merely allows cars to use them as needed.

He pulled in right on time. I knew what his bike looked like and a fair idea what he did as well. He got off his bike, took off his helmet, lit up his trademark cigarette and just said, “Billy Mac. You haven’t changed a bit.”
“Well, gee Tim. I would think I’ve changed a little since 9th grade.”
We talked for a bit, mostly small talk and we then saddled up. I told him I was a bit of a Rook so I would follow him.
Off we went.
There are certain rules to follow when riding in a group, even if the group is two. I learned them from my dad. Don’t ride side by side, ride staggered. If the leader is occupying the left side of the lane, stay in the right so that another driver doesn’t try to occupy the lane. Don’t get too close. I was nervous at first but I did fine. At the first stop, Tim likes to stop frequently and have a smoke and talk, he asked how long I had been riding.
“Less than a month.”
“Wow”, he said. “You’re doing great.”

At the next stop I asked where we were going. He told me we were going up Cathedral Ledge. I asked more questions and he said to just follow him. Before long we were taking a left into Cathedral Ledge State Park. We then began an upward climb on the windiest road I ever saw. Cars were crawling up and we had to pass a couple because if we didn’t we would have rolled back down the hill. It was that steep. We reached the top and there were hundreds of bikes and cars. We dismounted and I followed Tim to a clearing. Where I saw this…

The view was breathtaking. We talked for a while, got into a little more detail about our lives, elaborated on things we knew about each other from Facebook posts. Finally, he said. “Dialysis, huh?”
“Yup. If you look over there (I pointed to a clearing not visible in this pic), that’s my clinic right there.”
“They’re there. And you’re here, huh?”
“Absolutely. When I’m not there I’m living.”
Tim’s a quiet guy, a man of few words. “You sure as hell don’t look like a dialysis patient to me. Not that I actually know what one looks like, but it ain’t this.”
“Thanks, man. That’s the point.”

We left, descended the hair-raising winding road and set out on the last leg of our journey. We ended up on a very winding stretch of 29 miles that begins with a sign “no gas or services next 29 miles.” The first 3.5 miles were straight up. Then the curves began. I followed Tim’s lead and we began a stretch of snake curves where you need to lean your whole body into the curve or you wouldn’t make it. It was do or die time for me. I summoned my courage and went at it.

Part of me wanted to slow down but I didn’t. I rolled with every turn, mimicking every move Tim made. The wind blew us about, the noise in my helmet was deafening, the adrenaline was pumping. I was exhilarated in the place of fright. At one point I screamed over the din of the engine to no one in particular
LIVING!”

No mortal man heard me, it was for the ears of God alone.

At the next break we talked about the rush of that section of road. I was in heaven. I felt accomplished, I felt like I had performed above my pay grade. I felt alive.

Tim and I later parted ways with a commitment to do it again. We will. I can’t wait. It’s days like yesterday that remind me why you have to deal with the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. The bike, good friends, good conversation, the outdoors on a beautiful Spring day, adrenaline. That’s the good stuff.

I may be stuck in a dialysis chair 3 days a week. But on the other 4, you’ll find me out doing something that someone told me I can’t or shouldn’t do.

I call it LIVING.

Happily Ever After

She’s a romantic at heart. Despite all of the ugliness in her world she believes in a Happily Ever After. If anyone should be discouraged by love, it’s her. Yet she persists. She’ll find her White Knight if she has to punch his Noble Steed right in the mouth and knock him off and then drag him away.

He isn’t. He told her at length about how he wanted to believe in a happily ever after but it just wasn’t his nature. He was a man of facts, of pragmatism. Things had to make sense to him. Besides, he didn’t feel he had anything to offer. Women want security, a future. He could offer neither. His final answer was No, he didn’t believe in a Happily ever after. Maybe for someone else but not him. His only cogent offering in the way of explanation was that he was broken beyond repair.

“That’s a shitty answer, coming from you” she said. She was right. He, for the first time had no snappy answer. Not one that would satisfy her.

She asked him to write a Novella. In order to access her big, wonderful heart one must first seduce her mind. He was up to the challenge. After all, it’s just words. He set pen to paper and he wrote a story about a boy and a girl. It was sentimental, it was passionate, and it was genuine. It was also fiction. She loved it. Until the boy dies at the end. It ruined it for her. Where was the happily ever after?

He insisted that this was how the story must be. She insisted that true love always has happy endings. Don’t you see that?, she implored. He didn’t see it. He couldn’t. He could write it, but he didn’t believe it. He’s just not a romantic type.

Then he read what he wrote again. He took in his own words as if reading them for the first time. Who wrote this?, he jokingly asked himself. When he came to the tragic end, he recognized his own voice, his own life, his own tainted and shattered perspective. The boy died at the end because the author refused to believe that he could ever be happy.

Then he read it again. And again. He came to the stunning realization that the guy who wrote this is a romantic. He had to be. He poured his heart out onto paper about what he wanted in his heart of hearts and he called it fiction. He wasn’t fooling anyone, not even himself. He feels unloved, unwanted, unappreciated and lonely to the darkest recesses of his soul. But somehow, through his writing a sliver of light emerged. He believed, he just didn’t feel worthy, and his tactic of shutting people out so that they can’t hurt him simply wasn’t working anymore.

He painfully admitted to himself that yes, he wants love. He wants romance. He wants to savor moments with someone and count the minutes until they are together again. He wants spirited conversation and comfortable silences. He wants passion and intimacy. He wants to give everything to one person without another crushing rejection. He wants crazy. He wants fun. He wants to allow himself to be vulnerable yet unafraid of being hurt.

He wants something he’s never had and until now he thought it was just too late.

Now he wonders if it’s time to tell her that she’s right. She deserves more than anything to have a Happily Ever After. The least that he could do was try to believe with her.

Maybe the boy lives at the end after all…

Showing up

You’ve heard the quote, although the percentages vary, 80% of life is showing up. I agree. Wholeheartedly. I have always shown up, I’ve even been early more often than not. But I’ve always thought about a caveat. After you’ve shown up…then what?

Showing up without pursuant action is a false gesture. It is not enough to wake up and say “I’m here”. You then have to say, “What am I going to do now that I am?”

In my current state I am, on paper, the least able to be a man of action that I have ever been. My health, my time, my remote location have placed so many constraints on my ability to be the involved person that I once was. For a while, as I adjusted to my new lifestyle of scheduled clinic visits that occupied 15-17 hours per week, a new home over 100 miles from my friends, family and my beloved Masonic Lodge, and many additional days of unplanned fatigue and general crappiness I was noticeably absent where I was once omnipresent.

Now, I am happy to say that I am back in full force.

I’m back as a full-time member of my Masonic Lodge. Once word got out about the ordeal it is for me to attend, often while not feeling well, other members felt inspired to follow my lead. In addition, I was able to rejuvenate a Charity of ours that had been without a leader in my absence. In the first day we helped 3 School students fulfill needs not available through traditional programs.

I’m back volunteering at the Food Pantry, I’m not able to do the full shift but I still stay as long as I can.

Our Community Club, consisting of most of the full-time residents of my town is suffering from an aging membership and a drought in people willing to lead. I threw my hat in the ring for Vice President. An older member approached me and thanked me for “stepping up.”

It feels good to get involved, it feels better to get results. It wasn’t enough to go to my meetings, to be a kinda volunteer at a charity. I had to be a part of it. I have to tell you that it feels great. It’s almost enough to take my mind off of the myriad problems that would bring a weaker man to his knees.

This morning I sent 2 texts and made 3 phone calls to friends who are dealing with obstacles in their lives. One of my buddies came home Friday to find that his girlfriend had left him and took her 2 kids, who had been like his own children for the last 8 years. Another lost his job yesterday, no severance package. Another is going through terrible marital problems. The others were ailing friends and brothers. They were all grateful for the call, and more than one asked why I was worried about them with all I have going on. I told them that I’m here, I don’t really have anything else to do, what better way to spend my time than doing something positive with my time?

After all, time spent in service to others is time not spent focusing on yourself.

I’m here. I showed up. But that wasn’t enough. I still have something to offer and as long as I am of value to others then I will continue to value myself.

Don’t just show up. Jump in and make shit happen.

Superman out…

Destiny

He stood patiently at baggage claim as an endless stream of bags that weren’t his slowly passed by. He wasn’t in a hurry, he had waited so long already.

This is crazy, he muttered to himself. Maybe so, he thought, yet here I am.

It started as a harmless online dalliance. Over a surprisingly short period of time, it evolved into a drug he was dangerously addicted. Deep conversations by phone, erotic exchanges by text, it was a different relationship each and every day. He had tried to back it down, to rein it in but he couldn’t. They were into each other. She claimed an empathic connection, the pragmatist in him couldn’t deny it. He felt it also.

As of today, they had never actually met.

She was profane and classy, beautiful but didn’t know it, vulnerable and strong all at the same time. She had been hurt all of her life by the ones who should have loved her. He complimented her and she rejected it, she didn’t feel worthy. Then she realized that he wasn’t trying to build her up for a fall, he just wanted her to feel good enough. He saw beauty in every one of her quirks. For the first time in years, he was excited about someone.

She believed in destiny. He politely dismissed it, he didn’t believe like she.
She had repeatedly told him that she was crazy, but didn’t explicitly tell him to stay away. She would be delighted to learn that he loved crazy.
She told him she was all over the map, that she is an emotional roller coaster. He should have been cautious or hesitant to engage. But he wasn’t.
She told him that they would get together one day, despite the thousands of miles between them. He repeatedly told himself that this began as a dalliance to have fun with, but it wouldn’t end well.

There were too many obstacles.

Yet, here he was now, just hours away from meeting her face to face.

He took a ride sharing service to the hotel. As the car got closer he could hear and feel the thunderous roar of the great waterfall. He remembered going to Niagara Falls with his parents, he remembered it as a cheesy tourist spot with cheap souvenirs and too many people. When she told him that part of her post-divorce plans was to travel, she mentioned Niagara Falls. His heart skipped a beat, that was a manageable trip for him. Niagara Falls would take on a whole new form in his memory if this weekend turned out as it did in his head.

As he stepped out of the car he grabbed his phone and quickly texted where are you?
He collected his bags and paid the driver. As he put his wallet away his phone chirped.
At the rail, come find me
She was being playful, as expected. He dashed into the hotel, checked in as quickly as the Desk Clerk could move and paid a bellboy to put his bags in his room, the second key in his breast pocket.

It was a short walk to the main viewing area. He scanned the crowd, the mist stung his face as he tried to find her. He had seen hundreds of pictures of her but she rarely looked the same. To mix it up she had refused to tell him what color her hair was or what she would be wearing.
Then he saw her.
He didn’t know how he knew, he just did. He worked his way through the bustling crowd, gently squeezed in next to her at the rail and politely apologized to the person whose space he had just invaded. Looking straight ahead, he said her name aloud.
“You found me! Very impressive”, she said. Her Southern accent was a hundred times sexier than the phone ever allowed it to be.
“I knew it was you.” he said. “I could sense your aura.”
“You don’t believe in Auras and such bullshit”, she scoffed.
“I didn’t believe in a lot of things until I met you…” He turned to look her in the face. No amount of selfies he had viewed could do her justice, she was beautiful. He didn’t tell her, she didn’t like compliments and he didn’t want to cheapen the moment.
“So how do you want to begin?”, he asked playfully.
“How do you want to finish?”, she teased.
“Simultaneous I hope”, he looked deep into her eyes with a huge grin.
“Oh my”, she said. “I guess the question is whose room is closer.”
He held out his hand and began to lead her away from the rail. She joined her hand in his. They took a few steps and he turned and embraced her. It was at that moment, as he savored the smell of her hair that he realized that the moment had finally come. They were really together.
“It’s really you”, he said.
“It’s really me”, she said. “We’re wasting time, let’s go.”

They entered the hotel lobby and compared room keys. Hers was closer. The anticipation was getting the best of the both of them. Waiting for the elevator, riding the elevator, walking to the room they tried to keep a casual demeanor but their hands kept dancing around each other as they walked the seemingly endless hallway. At last they reached the room. She pushed the card into the slot.

As the door closed behind them, she slammed into him, pinning him against the door. Her hungry mouth consumed his. He feverishly ran his hands over her body, the curves that she was self conscious about were now his obsession. He grabbed her firmly and picked her up, hungrily kissing her as he made the way to the bed. He laid her down, began to take his shirt off when she rose up from the bed, grabbed him by the neck and pulled him on top of her.

He tore her blouse open and began to kiss her from her neck all the way down. He wanted the moment to last, he patiently and playfully worked his way to her panties. Pulling them aside, he began to pleasure her. At first he teased, then he settled into giving her the most intense pleasure she had ever experienced. The woman who had told him that no man had ever pleasured her in this way was clutching the sheets, crushing his ears with her strong legs and breathlessly panting his name. He persisted until she cried out in pleasure. After, her legs slowly relaxed their grip, she let go of the handful of crumpled bedding and wagged her index finger at him and provocatively motioned for him to come to her.

He stood, his pants falling to the floor and went to her.
“Are you pleased?” he asked.
“Oh my god, I’ve been missing out on THAT for my entire life? Can you do that again?”
“I can, but first I want to do this…” With that he rolled on top of her and entered her. It had been ten years since he had even kissed a woman, it had been forever since a man had made her the center of his affections and they made love for hours. She, after each round, said she wanted to pleasure him. He insisted that it be about her for once. He was savoring the moment, for him her pleasure gave him his. He reveled in giving this beautiful woman the loving that he knew she had been lacking from the moment they first talked.

They woke the next morning in a heap of wrinkled bedding and discarded clothing. They ordered room service, they were ravenous and dehydrated. When the food arrived, they weren’t able to answer the door. She was going down on him and he wasn’t about to let anything interrupt her. They made love again and after, he limped to the door and opened it to find a tray of cold breakfast and stale coffee. They devoured it as if it didn’t matter.

Niagara Falls is a beautiful place, especially if you actually leave the room and enjoy it. They wanted to leave the room, they tried but their passion was insatiable. When they weren’t exploring each other’s bodies, they were talking. Elbows on pillows, staring into each other’s eyes they reminisced on the events that led them here. They laughed, they teased, they talked about things that used to be. They marveled at the fact that they had finally come together. She had once told him that it was a WHEN, not an IF. He hadn’t believed her. He hated false hope. They pinched each other to see if the past two days had actually happened.

He was happy for the first time in as long as he could remember

What they didn’t talk about was what would come next. The 2400 miles that would once again separate them was a sinister figure lurking on their horizon. He knew that he would take it easier than she would, he was accustomed to not being happy. This was just a reprieve from the dull and predictable life that has been void of happiness for so long. But her, he felt bad for her. She deserved to smile, laugh and experience pleasure like she had this weekend every day. And he knew that he could be the one to make her happy. But for those miles and the buoys of life that tied them to where they were.

As they checked out the next morning, they took one last look at the mighty falls, soaking in the cold mist as it splashed their faces. They stared speechlessly, not wanting to ruin the moment by speaking.

Finally, he turned to her.
“What’s next?”, he asked her.
“For now, I have to go back to my life.”
“So then that’s it?”
“We’ll figure it out. Destiny, remember?”
“I can’t go back to my boring life. My routine of dialysis, sleepless nights, being so far from everyone.” He stared deeply at her and grabbed her by her arms. “And I don’t believe in destiny.”
“What do you believe in, then?” she asked.
“Tragic endings.” He leaned in and kissed her deep and hard. He then straddled the railing and came to a sitting position.
“What are you doing?” she cried out and grabbed for him.
“Ending this the only way it can, on a high for a change.”

He pulled his hand from hers and fell backwards, disappearing into the roar of the falls.