Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time Like a Bridge

I was a different rider now. I moved back and forth between two worlds, mommy world and motorcycle world. They had different people in them, different priorities, different codes and language. Citizens of these countries on the other side of the globe from each other couldn’t understand why I didn’t fully inhabit one or the other, and I could not explain. Did I want a unified life? No, I just wanted time to be endless so I could continually slip through the crack between the two people I was. I wanted all the time in the world to put on a dress and go to friends’ for dinner, drinking wine on the patio and discussing the current presidential administration while the children played in the backyard. I wanted all the time in the world to go motorcycle camping and ride to Florida and talk merits of tires and spend whole days taking pieces off engines and cleaning them and putting them back.

I did not have all the time in the world. All at once, I knew. Time had become rare, elusive, choked off and breathing hard. While I was going on my way, I had unwittingly made a passage of some moment.

There is a time like a bridge—let us say it is the age of fifty. On one side of the bridge is forever: no idea of “end” intrudes on anything, especially one’s daydreams. Tell the fortysomethings, then: Go, have your big parties with your big platters in your big houses. Sometime soon, it will all seem too big, too full of infinite hope; a little pointless. Life’s vista has narrowed. That is when you have crossed over the bridge, and that is when you find yourself thinking alarming things like, Holy shit, I may, if I am lucky, have something like twenty-five, maybe thirty, years left. And I’m not going to be riding into my seventies, probably: some people do, but perhaps they shouldn’t. Enough said. So—fifteen years left. That means fifteen seasons, those ever-shorter leases on fine weather that blaze by and melt into cold.


Holly said...

Time may be the most beautiful and evil bit of this world.

I saw many motorcyclists when I was in Northwest Arkansas recently. Probably more bikers than cars. I can understand the allure.

ryusuke said...

Reminded me of what Auden once wrote...

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

Simon Fitzpatrick said...

Hi Melissa

I'm about 2/3rds of the way through The Perfect Vehicle and, having just completed a 27,000 mile ride across the Americas, and being a wee bit lost back in the UK now, it's giving me an unquenchable urge to do the whole thing again (including the Blue Ridge Parkway this time). What a fantastic book. Thanks.

People keep telling me my bike-blog-trip-diary makes them laugh. Please have a look if you can! Here's a link to the post just before I entered the US (from Mexico):

Sorry to use this comment page but I can't find any other way to contact you...

Simon Fitzpatrick
simey_boy AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

th_01 said...

You have crossed the bridge. 15 seasons seems like a long time. It goes by fasst.

Now that you have realize it things look different. Every mile is a gift. Every person in that other universe a time traveler. You are at a party and people have this illusion of what a motorcyclist is you give up on explaining to your friends. The conversations are usually short. A few jokes about leathers and tatooes come and conversation about motorcycling fades away. But you know there are others out there in the same conversation.
You are not alone.

Your Friend

Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Life *is* time--there is nothing else we are given.

In the face of Auden, I am silent.

Tom, how can we slow this down? Maybe life--and riding--go by fast; but loving others makes us immortal. In a way.


(Thank you, Simon. Having just returned from my own trip--much less epic than yours!--I know how strange it feels to not be moving. Today is the first day in a month that I haven't been riding for most of the day, like it was food or something. Will look at your post soon as I can catch my breath!)