Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happiness is a Warm Motorcycle

I was having a shitty day.  The kind of day where I didn't want to talk to anyone, let alone even make eye contact.  I just wanted to be alone.  I wanted to cycle to the ocean and think or not think at all, remember everything or nothing and forget it all just the same.  I've always understood the healing power of the ocean but to be able to see it and swim in it everyday becomes a different reality.  I've become a bit co-dependent on the water, craving it's salty attention, which could be a good thing until we break up and I move elsewhere.  I spent the day on the beach and then hunger dragged me back to the hostel where I ate a late lunch in a moody fashion.

After eating, I knew I needed to get some writing done so I planted myself on the roof of the hostel and stared at my computer screen.  The blank page peered back at me only fueling my frustration, blinking cursor taunting me.  How can I lack inspiration when I live in such a beautiful place?  It's not where you are physically though, it's where you are in your head and sometimes you can just get so stuck in there.  You unbraid every thought until you have a pile of frayed string with still no resolutions about anything.  These are the kind of days where confusion begets confusion, no matter how much unraveling you do.

I sat for about an hour and didn't type a damn word.  Feeling stymied and snubbed by my relative thought blockage, I turned off my computer and walked slowly down the stairs from the roof of the hostel to my room.  I placed my computer in my little locker and texted Ashley, asking her what she was doing.  She can always make me smile and plus I could hold her son, Calai, his lush, baby goodness just making me warm could possibly be enough.

The door to my room was open and as my friend, Nimi, walked by, he slowed down and said, "I just took a ride on that motorcycle!"  Pointing to the bike outside, the one bike with an engine next to all the bikes with pedals.  A working, noble BMW machine amongst dinged up bikes, some with flat tires, all painted in rust.  It's been parked at the hostel for awhile but I never gave much thought to it apart from once in awhile eyeing it thinking, "Who's pimp ride is that?"

"Do you want to go for a ride?"  Nimi's eyebrows raised with a glint in his dark brown eyes and a huge grin split my face from ear to ear, "Yes."  Something I've realized since I've been here, when you're having a bad day, say yes to any possible thing that might make you smile.  Being glum gets old fast.  In the box on the back of the bike was a black helmet with a skull on it, this was mine for the ride because it's the law and you're an idiot if you don't.  Also, because I knew it would be the first question my mom would ask of me when I told her that I rode a motorcycle and of course I want to alleviate her concerns.  I won't mention that I wore flip flops instead of my sneakers as the whole event transpired so quickly that it didn't occur to me to take proper podiatric care.  But head care, yes.

"I've never ridden a motorcycle before!" I said to Nimi.  He got on and told me where to put my feet to get on behind him.  Screw the bad day, as soon as I mounted that thing, I couldn't stop smiling.  We rode out of the hostel onto the road, "Where do you want to go?"

"On the beach road!"  I thought it might be spectacular to see the ocean from a motorcycle.  Nimi revved the engine and faster and faster we rode, overtaking one car after another.  I was grinning like an idiot and giggling like a child, it was impossible not to.  I believe a string of drool even flew out of my mouth at one point during the ride.  It made me remember summers when I was a kid and we would go to Darien Lake, the amusement park near Buffalo.  I lived for the roller coasters.  I could barely be bothered with any of the other rides, bumper cars and ferris wheels be damned, speed was the most important aspect for me at amusement parks.  Just like when I used to snowboard in the woods in Vermont and the Alpine Slide rides I've hurled myself down in Austria with my international crew of friends.  Waterskiing with my family in the Adirondacks, jetskiing with my best friend, Katie, when we were teenagers, fourwheeling in the woods once with my brother-in-law, hell even biking down a hill, I love speed.  It is thrilling, your heart in your chest, your eyes wide open, you are seated next to life, it is not merely passing you by.

Trees, hotels, people, cars, scooters, the ocean, we raced by them all.  And I couldn't stop laughing.  My heart grew warm little fuzzies for friends like Nimi, who see you toiling with your bad day in the morning and leave you be.  And it's the same friend who will bring you out of your shit by offering you a magic carpet ride in the evening.  We weaved around other cars and when we could fly, we flew.  We rounded blind corners keeping to our side of the road, leaning with the bike to the right, to the left.  At the end of the paved beach road is the entrance to the biosphere reserve, Sian Ka'an.  Cue in dirt road riddled with potholes and more giggling as we bounced and soared over it all.  We got to a restaurant, called Cesiak, that has a tower to watch the sunset over the lagoon on the west and the ocean on the east.  We were just in time for a bright pink sky dotted with dark grey clouds and a bright red sun hunkering down.

It's one thing to be on a bicycle lolling past the ocean, it's another thing to be in a car and roll down the window to watch the ocean slide by, but to be on a motorcycle, it's different in all it's entirety.  You can focus on nothing in particular and watch the turquoise water rush by or you can focus on one point for a second, another point the next second.  Anonymous faces dart by that you smile at and they smile back because they can see glee all over your face.  Even in that one split second of eye contact, it's good to share delight.  And when you want even more of a rush, just look up and watch the palm trees, the ficus trees, the bougainvillea shuffle rapidly overhead, one after another with the sky intersected between the blooms and the branches.  Then you bring your focus ahead of you again, tilt your head to the right to see past the helmet in front of you and know that you can always look back but the only way to go is forward.


  1. Replies
    1. Thought of you when I wrote this because I know you and Erik have bikes! So much fun! Whenever I visit you in Maine we shall go for a ride!

  2. Looooove it! I've only ridden on one once and it was Len's old bike, 'Suzie', and we cruised down back country roads to the national park. It was awesome! (ps. I feel famous for being mentioned in this post!)

  3. I felt like I was riding with you! Loved this post! xo