I came down the stairs, turned the corner, and took a deep breath. Then, just like I rehearsed it in the shower, said “Sweetheart, I’m getting ready to turn 40.”
She was reading e-mail on her laptop and did not look up at me. “Um hmm.”
“And there’s this thing called a mid-life crisis that can really cause a lot of damage to people.”
“Yes.” She sipped her coffee without removing her eyes from the laptop screen.
“So I was thinking maybe we should plan it out. You know, be ready for it, and have a strategy to get through it.”
“Yes. And I think you can help.”
“Yes. Which do you think I should get, a mistress or a motorcycle?”
She paused. She slowly looked up, not at me, but at the wall. “Well, … either one will probably kill you.” Another sip of coffee, “Get some more life insurance. I’ll draw up your will for you to sign, and then you can get the motorcycle.”
Okay, that’s not really how it happened, but that is how I tell the story.
I’m one of the many guys who went out sometime around their 40th birthday and purchased a motorcycle. It was my first bike, but I have a lot of friends who rejoined the ranks of two wheelers after decades of being out of the saddle.
Before long, we had a regular “gang” that went to breakfast, rode the curves on the weekends, and about once or twice a year took off on a multiple night road trip. Good times. Middle aged guys with families and mortgages and jobs riding together. Middle aged guys enjoying a reason to hang out, feel good about moving down the road, finding new challenges …together.
We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were writing our stories. Now, when we get together we relive the time Carl screeched down hill through a red light because of bald tires. We talk about the small hut we visited found that claimed to be a restaurant and proved it with the best peach cobbler we ever tasted. We remember the hidden gem of a hotel just off the Blue Ridge Parkway that let us wash our bikes and park them under the awning at the front door.
I think it’s those stories that people crave. It’s not the bike. It’s my theory that we want to have a sense of belonging to something. We all want to be a part of something just a little bit bigger than ourselves. We want to find out what is over the horizon, around the bend, and just beyond our reach.
Time passed. Now a lot of my “gang” has started to sell their bikes. Many reasons are given; failing health, challenged finances, and time pressure from other life events.
I’m not finished riding. There are more roads I need to find, more stories to uncover. I’ll miss my gang. I’ll come back and tell them what I’ve seen if they want to hear. I can’t put the kickstand down yet. Heck, I passed up a mistress for this.