membership has its priveleges

When I was in college I had a good friend who graduated a year ahead of me. Mark was a commuter student like myself and we both worked at the local supermarket to pay for our meager existences. While I wasn’t the best with money, Mark was extremely frugal and extracted a good amount of living from a meager income. It wasn’t lost on him that we joked about his “frugality”. Behind the jeers, I admired his discipline.

Imagine my surprise when one night in 1990, Mark rolls up in a mint 1984 Corvette (yes, the first year of the new body style). We all got to talking and before any of us could extract from him what he paid for it, Mark offered that he paid too much at too high a rate of interest and he didn’t care. Because this was in such stark contrast to his frugal persona we were all very surprised and vocalized it. His answer?
“I’ve always wanted one and I told myself that when I graduated I was buying one, regardless of the cost.”

It’s funny the things you remember. Especially when you imitate it yourself 30 years later.

I have always wanted a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. My love of motorcycles is well-documented. Any bike is a beautiful thing, wind therapy is the same no matter what you are on. But there’s something special about the American Icon Harley Davidson. The trademark rumble, the magnificent yet classic style and the memories of my Dad and his series of bigger and more beautiful models have always been at the forefront of my mind.
But I could never justify the cost.
2 years ago I celebrated my divorce by buying a motorcycle. The idea was Verboten in my marriage for financial and safety reasons ( my wife knew about the accident in ’87 that almost killed me) so once divorced I had to. It was a small Honda that served me well for a year as I got my skills back. I soon upgraded to a larger bike, a Yamaha 950. Before purchasing, I perused the row of Harley’s but they were too expensive. As I signed the Purchase and Sale it felt good but not great, I really wanted the Harley.
The Yamaha lasted a year. Last week, while in a funk over a girl and life in general I needed to do something for me. I needed something to love. To fixate on. To distract me from the factors in my life that were chapping my ass. I desperately wanted something to make me happy. Want became need and before I knew it I was at the dealer discussing trade in values.

I had gone there looking at a 2015 Heritage Softail but once I saw it in person I wasn’t impressed with the condition. I quickly moved down the line and BOOOM there it was, a 2014 Fat Boy Lo Softail with 4000 miles. This bike was immaculate.
I fell in love and drove off with it that day.

Despite my love of all that is Harley, I had never ridden one. All I can say is that there is a difference. Everything feels different, better. The feel of the road, the rumble of the pipes, the ogling of young children and jealous soccer dads, it’s all as advertised.

As a rider I joined an exclusive club. Bikers are a tight bunch. Hailing from all walks of life we all share our love of the open road and the comraderie it entails. We have each other’s back. Having a Harley is not a pre requisite for membership. All types and models are welcome. But again, there’s something about the Harley.

I’ve been riding almost non stop for a week. I have no plans to stop until the snow flies. Behind the bars of this bike is where I am meant to be. It was always my goal. I wanted it so bad it became a need. A manageable one, my payment only went up a bit. So worth it.

An added bonus, I feel as if my father is riding beside me with a proud smile from ear to ear. I have to rely on imagination because it is one thing I never got to do with him.

the words left unsaid

I love my dialysis nurses. I think they do God’s work and I appreciate them. They do more than stick needles in my arm, they monitor my welfare and genuinely care about me and make a very difficult transition for their patients easier. Of course, I can only speak for myself but the nurses have a special place in my heart.

One nurse I am particularly fond of is Jesse. Jesse is one of the youngest nurses at the clinic and I have felt a special chemistry with her since the day I met her. We share a devilish sense of humor which is tampered by her strict codes of conduct in the clinic regarding patient interaction. Still, we manage to have flirty and somewhat sexy conversations in sneaky ways, even the exchange of glances or funny faces. I love it when she’s there, it makes the time pass a little better. It’s safe to say that if there wasn’t a clinic policy against dating patients, we would be a couple. Just one more example of how my life is.

C’est La vie.

I have gotten to know her over the last year and she tells me a bit about her personal life. I know she doesn’t share with many patients, we have a special connection. I know that she has 2 very cute daughters, aged 5 and 3. I know that their father used to live with them and watch the girls while Jesse was at work. I know that he recently moved out and she is single (not that I can do anything with that knowledge). I also know that Jesse hasn’t spoken to her father in years. She has revealed enough for me to know that her relationship with her dad was less than stellar. Let’s call it what it is, she hated him.

Last Tuesday Jesse was in a terrible mood. She was quiet and frequently teared up. She wasn’t speaking to anyone with the exception of the communication necessary to get someone set up on the dialysis machine. It bothered me a bit to not have our usual back and forth but it had nothing to do with me and I figured whatever it is will work out and she will be in a better mood next time. Unfortunately, the next time I saw her she was no better.

I decided to engage her. I remarked to her that she was in a bad mood again. She then came over and said “I’ll tell you, but you’re one of two people I’m telling. I haven’t told anyone else. She paused and said, “My father was killed in an accident last week.”

I was stunned. Of course I had no words to offer. I offered her a hug and half-joked that maybe I can give her some of my strength. She teared up. She wasn’t working that day so she soon left. I had several hours left and most of them were spent thinking of her.

She had a difficult road ahead. She has lost her father. In addition she had the burden of knowing that they had a terrible relationship. On top of it all, I know that she had to be torn by those words. You know those words…the ones unsaid. I’m sure there are regrets. I’m sure there are unresolved issues. I’m sure that she was right in how she felt about him but never had the one thing we all crave in the end. Closure. She has a long road ahead of her and there is nothing that I can do that will help her reach closure. I wish I could in the worst way.

See, she’s not the only one with unresolved issues and things unsaid. I wanted to tell her how I feel about her. That I have been pining for her for a very long time. Hopeful that there is a way around the clinic’s policy against patients fraternizing/dating staff. I wish she knew that I would ask her out in a New York minute if I could. I want to be with her so very badly. And I can’t until I am no longer a patient of the clinic or if she leaves the company. Neither seems viable right now, I need a transplant, it’s the only answer. Until that unlikely event, it’s just not going to happen.

I went to a local fair today and it wasn’t 5 minutes before I ran into her. She met my daughter and my friend Eric. It felt naughty to be talking to her because it was forbidden on so many levels. But we talked for a few minutes and it was really nice. Not to mention that she looked beautiful in the early afternoon sunshine. As we parted ways, I hugged Jesse and bluntly said “We need to find a way around that company policy because I want to be with you.” I amazed myself at how bold that statement was. But I felt better for saying it. They were no longer words unsaid. I said them. It was the truth after all and now it was out there. I think she knows that I’m into her, now it’s confirmed.

When we parted ways and walked away my daughter, who already knew my feelings for Jesse said, with her usual candor, “ You need to marry her. She’s beautiful, she’s awesome and she’s into you.”
“You think so?”
“Oh yeah.”
“Well, a lot has to happen before that happens.” I said. “But I think she is worth waiting for.”