Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friendly


I get too moony when I think of friends. I know. But I am overflowing with soppy emotion again today. I have been thinking of all the riches motorcycling has bestowed on me, and the mysterious path that led me back to it, a place I needed to be even though I did not know it. Yet something, someone, did.

The friendships that hold me closest in their embrace--the ones that hold me up, and will ever do so--have come to me through this. In only a short while, they have become the tightest, the blissfully stickiest, that I have ever known. How do you know when a friendship will last until the final days? Look around. Then place your money on the folks who are wearing helmets.

Beyond the internal, unmixable, physical and spiritual joys of riding--the soul's great "yahoo!" reverberating inside your brain at every shift into gear--there is the equal joy of knowing you ride with a great net under you. A net made of people who also ride, and on whom you can call when you are in need (company, assistance, advice, presence, tools, time, affection).

I took a ride today on my new motorcycle. I have never before owned more than one. Much less three. I can see how this becomes a habit.

I took a ride today on my new motorcycle because a friend took two airplanes and rode it eight hundred fifty miles to get it back to me. Just because he is a friend, and because he loves riding, and because he loves it when others love it. Then he gave me a brief tour of the new machine's bits and pieces, intimidating since new, but soon to become friends, too, of a sort. Then he followed me on a forty-mile circuit of local roads not because he desired a ride--though he does not ever scoff at those--and upon returning home, gave me an intensive lesson in bike-washing. (I am impatient, but the bike is happy that he is not; it will probably never shine so well again.) Finally he stood by while I gingerly backed the bike into the garage, a maneuver that requires finesse and strength and an initial watchful eye, or at least it seems so to me.

This morning I had breakfast with motorcycle friends. Afterward, I went to borrow a tool from a motorcycle friend. Tomorrow morning, I will meet and ride with new friends. Throughout the day, I have been marking down on the calendar in my head future rides with other friends.

I have a friend, on the other side of the country, delivered to me by the agency of motorcycles. He is of profound heart and mind, and I can count on him to see into me, and through me, and to say things that will either make me think deeply or laugh idiotically. I have never met him, but he is one of my best friends.

The correspondence I carry on with another friend, also a writer and a motorcyclist, is to me like sustenance. When I get an email from him--literate, fascinating, long, full of thought and passion--I feel like the doorbell has rung and it's the takeout delivery man, with a delicious meal for a very hungry person. Go on and say it, though it sounds wifty as hell: I cherish them, and him.

With another friend down south, I have shared some ups and downs. But we have carried on. On bikes. They bind us, and I hope always will. It is not my fault some emotions have gotten involved: high emotions are what these machines are all about.

I realized, with a start, that in one short year, a circle of new friends has drawn itself about me, impermeable. It's a thousand friends strong, because with bike friends, friends of friends are friends, too. I could probably ride across the country and stay every night with some motorcycle connection, strung like pearls from sea to sea.
I could share every meal of the week with motorcycle friends if I wanted; I could talk on the phone, or email interminably, with no one but motorcycle friends.

What a good idea.

It makes me go all gooey inside. It surprises me, this suddenness, this unending richness from the one thing that life is all about: connection. And love. Oh, and that moment the gear engages and the world is new again.

7 comments:

Steve said...

Congratulations on the new bike!

This was a good opportunity to reflect on the friends I've met since returning to motorcycling. I have been unable to ride lately not because of illness, lack of time, or even poor weather; I've had too much on my mind. I haven't been able to focus well enough to ride safely.

Friends that have only the common interest of motorcycles have invited me for a ride, and upon hearing that I'm too distracted the response is almost identical: "If there is anything I can do to help just let me know. Anything."

It is a net. That's a nice feeling. Difficult to understand or explain how it happens, but nice.

Charles said...

I own a Royal Enfield. dont buy one. :P

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Then I guess I'll just keep the picture of the Enfield; pictures are much easier to tune.

_+_+_+_+

Steve, you're wise to stay off the bike when your mind is elsewhere. You'll know when it's time to get back on. And your friends, of whom I am one, will help lead you back.

Adam N said...

It's pretty awesome to see people smiling in a motorcycle ad.

Nobody smiles in motorcycle ads anymore. Look at some motorcycle ads, nobody is smiling. Really, I am totally serious.

Melissa, be smiling. New bike! Whoot!

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Yes, Adam, only losers smile. And losers don't get the chicks. Because that's what a new bike is for, getting chicks. As well as a sour look on your face, which you mistake for cool.

seanny said...

Absolutely eloquent and brilliant. In MoCo culture we don't use the word "friends," but other than that, I totally loved it. I love it when you write about riding, it's freakin amazing.

I always wanted a Royal Enfield...

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Wow, thank you, Sean.

Have you also noticed that, pound for pound, motorcyclists tend to be smarter--and funnier--than the general run of humans? (These qualities are closely related, too, I believe.) And I've known some smart people in my time.

As for the vintage (even new vintage) bikes: I'll need a second lifetime to get into that. Anyone know where I can get a second lifetime, cheap?