Three years ago this weekend I was returning from a 4,000-mile motorcycle ride that took me across seven states. That two-week journey reintroduced me to my hometown. It allowed me to reconnect with friends and family members, some of whom I hadn’t seen in more than two decade. That ride took place at the end of my former life. I say this because almost everything has changed since then.
My 23-year marriage ended
I now see it had been ending for years, and some of the ride was a about figuring out how to be on my own. It was the first time I’d been alone, really alone, for more than twenty years. It wasn’t easy, but it’s the part that stuck with me. Realizing I could be okay by myself is what I return to when I now drift into sadness. Rebuilding my life after divorce began with the foundation I formed on my motorcycle three years ago.
My dad died
A lot of the trip was a quiet tribute to my father. He taught me to ride his motorcycle more than 30 years ago, and taking a motorcycle trip in his honor felt like the right thing to do when his Alzheimer’s began to get really bad. The worst part happened here. I actually rode down my parent’s street during the trip, but I couldn’t get myself to stop for a visit. I’ve tried to figure out why. I think it was weakness and selfish fear. I now wish I’d stopped, but I just couldn’t do it then.
My 17-year career at a major online news website ended
It’s funny how much I connected my identity with what I did at msnbc.com. I’m sure it’s not healthy, and I’m pretty sure just about all journalists do it. I’ve since found another job – one I like every bit as much, maybe more. My new job certainly feels more important. I now photograph and create video for a cancer research center in Seattle. It’s a mission I can get behind at this point in my work life.
So, this weekend I find myself astride my motorcycle again. This trip is only 1/10th the distance of the ride three years ago. I don’t know if I could do another 4,000-mile motorcycle trip. I just don’t have the impulse. I no longer feel the need to get away from things. In fact, I hardly ever ride my motorcycle anymore. Part of me wants to sell her while she is still in great shape. I’m saving for a down payment on a place in Seattle. Connie’s value would put a decent dent in the down payment.
But for now… I’m riding. It’s warm and dry over in eastern Washington, and that’s where I’m headed. I’ll ride until I get tired. That’s where I’ll pull off the road to camp and think and sleep.