Friday, July 27, 2007

Past Meets Present

The early days of my riding experience involved people who were in social and emotional transition. From a youthful unencumbered outlook on life to an adult perspective. Often times those periods involved a great deal of uncertainty. Experimentation and far too often, failure.

We were connected by our love of motorcycles and the rides we took on them. The bikes were anything a rider could afford. The rides often began with a basic idea (head west) but no real destination. As much as we weren't sure where our rides might take us, most of us had no idea where our lives were headed.

You think you're special when you're young. That what you do is unique to your group of friends.

Gradually our lives found direction. Our rides became fewer as getting ahead in this world took precedence over wallowing in self contemplation. We were growing up. A few faded from the group while others stayed on. Occasionally a new rider would appear but never stay with us for long. Familiar faces long absent from the rides would return and it seemed that while life had changed us the rides were our constant. Sometimes someone's old girlfriend would return.

That could create a mess but that's all I'm going to say about that.

So we went on to school, got real jobs and moved all over the country. We found enduring relationships and still laugh about how damn lucky we are to have found her when we talk over the phone.

The past is gone, the memories remain.

Each year those memories get a little sweeter. Seem a little better than they really might have been. Try hopping on the same bike you did twenty years ago and you'll see what I mean. Walk down the same street you cruised in your youth. Its not the same. We inhabited that time in our lives. We can only visit those places and hope to see the old landmarks still in place.

But you can't talk to a building.

Its hard not to gravitate to the same kinds of folks you grew up with. You know where you fit in the mix. If you're lucky you meet someone who understands much of your own past on a level of personal experience. You find out that this guy rides and another connection is formed. So you go for a few rides. And then it happens. That... synchronized riding thing... I don't know what to call it. It just happens. You look over at your buddy and he's turning to you at the same moment and that freakin' grin is on his face. The same stupid one you know you're wearing. Its like the old days all over again.

The clincher is this isn't just about riding with someone you got to know and like. Its about riding with someone you feel safe riding with. Someone whose habits and style are like people you're familiar with. This friend of mine is great to ride with because most importantly I feel safe around this guy. Even when he's having a little fun I know how to react. Know what to expect.

The freedom to relax a little on the rides is what I remember from years past. To ride with someone else and be free to think about whatever crosses one's mind. Because I knew what to expect in the other's riding style. Its a freedom in itself to be able to predict the other's moves.

Maybe that's all the past I'll ever need in the present.