From inside my car, I see a motorcyclist.
He’s wearing down the heels of his expensive new boots as he drags them along the pavement in traffic. He wears a fluorescent vest for visibility, but ironically his rear tail-light seems to be out. Also, he has a tinted visor. Never mind that it’s a pitch black night, because when you are a new rider behind a tinted visor you are cool, you are mysterious, and seeing what’s on the road doesn’t matter much to you.
Suddenly, I am seated in the theater of my memory. I have a view of a shining red fuel tank as seen from back on the saddle. It is the day before I start my motorcycle safety course. The bike is idling, and I’m playing with the clutch. Rolling forward and back… forward… and back. Like baby steps. Forward and back, until I’ve stalled and restarted the bike so many times that the battery is dead.
Sheets of water are rushing over me. Sheets of water so thick that after a while they meld together to form a second lens over my tinted visor. I am trying to stay relaxed but I’ve got a death grip on the handlebars and I’m cursing under my breath. Lightning is coming down on all sides of me, I cannot see 5 feet in front of me, I am scared, and I am alone and I am free, and I don’t know why I haven’t crashed yet but I do know more than I have known anything that here in this lightning storm in Arizona is where I’m supposed to be.
Now I am waking up after my first night away from home, protected and hidden in a golden field of straw. The morning sun is warm and rising and promising, and a few feet away I spy those chrome mirrors peeking over the brush. With just a piss and a pop-tart we are bouncing along a dirt road, soon pushing across a highway faster than we should be; but no mothers or fathers are here to stop us—they are hundreds of miles away. Between us, and us alone, I promise that I will nevergive up this feeling. I will never give up this feeling.
Now I am flying. Literally flying through the air. No, this isn’t some stupid melodramatic metaphor about motorcycle riding and the way it makes you feel as free as a fucking bird, I mean that in this very moment I am soaring through open air! I don’t know how and I don’t know why, I just am. I catch a glimpse of one of my legs juxtaposed against the sky, and then I am bouncing along the ground like like a leather-clad barbie doll tossed from the top of the stairs.
On my back, and traffic has stopped. Rain is pitter-pattering against my tinted visor. I don’t feel any pain.
There’s a little girl crying in the passenger seat of a black Chevrolet truck. The driver’s door is open and a woman stretches out her face while she clutches at her heart. I stumble towards her and flip open the tinted visor so that she can see the sincerity in my healthy blue eyes—“I’m fine. I didn’t get hurt at all… trust me… I’m fine.”
Today, like every day, I am daydreaming of a lightning storm, and a dirt road, and a morning sun and a black Chevrolet truck with a crying girl inside. Of picking up a bundle of bent metal, with its mangled chrome mirrors like torn ears, and finally giving into the truth that somewhere along the line that feeling slipped away.
The tinted visor just sits in my room. I can’t in good conscience put it on, but sometimes I find myself looking into it—only to see my stupid reflection staring me right back in the face.