Saturday, January 9, 2010

Orlando to Tampa

The main happy memory of most who celebrate christmas usually involves a tree and the destruction of wrapping paper. It is a fun experience for the lads but I have had enough christmas mornings to happily never celebrate the holiday again. So spending the 25th alone in Orlando was not a lamentable sadness. Quite the opposite, as I got to spend time at the movies in a mindless big budget stupor. (As a note, Sherlock Holmes is barely alright. A slushy buddy movie that really shouldn’t be filed under ‘Mystery’. Avatar is a deplorable narrative extremely well told. Take your kids to see it, but afterward give them a stern lecture about the myth of the noble savage and naive enlightenment humanism.) I left the cinema visually satisfied and philosophically frustrated, got back on the bike and rode to a silent night at the homie’s crib.

I stepped outside the next morning into a chill that tugged at my bones. I mounted the machine and rode to a road to which I have never been and waited there. It was near the intersection of two major highways and seemingly dead ended around a corner. As I stood, cars rolled up and parked on the shoulder near me. This was a place for waiting, it seemed. I watched as other cars rolled up and domestic exchanges were made. Mostly children, shuffling from one parent’s car into a another. I wondered if such a style came by divorce or design. I wondered also if either cause was preferable to the other. The answer did not come, but I didn’t think about it long. The Buell had come to get me.

I greeted my man and we spoke of the weather. It would not be keeping us from fate today. He bid me to follow him and off we went to the good roads.

Most of the time, the protective walls of a car reveal only the need to get to a particular place. Gotta get to work, or to the store, or to whatever and then home. Four wheels give us only the means to get somewhere. But the moto causes a kind of incredulity toward destinations. Locations are just excuses that riders use to string routes together. Once, a friend of mine said to me: “hey, my lips are chapped. I think there is some lip balm in a convenience store in the next town over.” And off we went. Yeah, the moto unsettles the space of meanings within which roads and such tend to sit. So when I tell you that an airport service road gave me the best riding experience outside of a track day, please don’t think me mad.

We stopped for a moment at an intersection. The Buell looked back at me and nodded, pointing forward to the road ahead. It was like I could hear his voice. “This is that shit right here, lets do this.” I half expected his front tire to come up as he flexed ahead. I followed with the same excitement but with more hesitation since I hadn’t seen this future. The Buell disa-fucking-peared around the first turn, a well cambered right hander with a nice guard rail on the outside just in case you thought this was a game. I squeezed toxic fluid through steel-braided lines as I blipped the throttle, down-shifted and let out the clutch lever. A catholic may have said a hail mary, but the atheist on the Atlas just aimed for the apex and let it ride. People talk about man and machine, or mind and world, or soul and body, but I don’t see the split. When the lean angle hits 45 degrees, it’s Spinoza or nothing at all.

By the time the last corner was in view, I was already thinking about the U-turn I was going to make to rip this shit once more. But the plan changed when we passed a squad car. I mean, sure, maybe fortune does favor the bold. But so does death, groin-targeted knee attacks and civil penalties. We made our escape and rocked the tarmac elsewhere. But man. Those corners were just evil. Like I might turn into a pillar of salt if I looked back at them.

I spent more time in Orlando. A couple days of reflection in joy and sadness. Then I hit the fateful exit home down I-4, watching the world lose its color once again. I got back. Night fell with the temperature and I laid upon my couch with no feeling of conclusion or accomplishment. My blanket was woven from responsibilities I had to face and friends from whom I had to seek forgiveness. It was a return to unrestful sleep and the birth of a new kind of desire.

I think I might ride to New York. Or maybe just off the edge of the Earth.

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