Iím A Girl
††††††††††† I remember Dinty Moore beef stew from a can and powdered Tang mix in a plastic tube. I remember Fig Newtons (she told us she bought them because they wouldnít melt, we knew better) and canisters of Pringles. I remember two orange pup tents that always leaked (even if nobody touched the ceiling). I remember the hatchet that split the firewood and pounded the tent stakes into the ground.
††††††††††† I remember looking in the ditch for a soda can to drain gas from my Dadís motorcycle to put into my momís motorcycle. I remember always checking if the saddlebags and trunk were closed properly. I remember wrapping my legs around the driver in front of me. I remember sleeping for many, many miles at a time. I remember lots of sunsets and sunrises from the highway. I remember waiting under countless overpasses for the rain to stop. I remember singing songs inside my helmet to pass the time.† I remember counting construction cones or dashes in the middle of the highway. I remember playing alphabet games with the road signs. I remember the hand signals: blinker still on, Iím hungry, Iím tired, etcÖ When I was riding behind my mom I remember my Dad playing hide ní seek with me if I got mad at him. He would move from one side of us to the other with his motorcycle and I would always look in the opposite direction until I couldnít help but crack a little smile. I remember keeping my mom awake with back rubs. I remember eating a lot of licorice and chewing a lot of gum. I remember waiting in warm Laundromats for dry cloths.† I remember it being so hot that every time we stopped my mom made me drink a large quantity of water. Eventually I asked her ďWhy donít I have to pee?Ē
††††††††††† I remember beautiful mountain passes with snow. I remember prairie that continued as far as the eye could see. I remember long winding roads with curves that I hoped would never end. I remember small towns with only a gas station and a diner. I remember highways with tollbooths and cities with lots of traffic. And there were always the people. The people that helped us when the bikes needed help, or when we were just trying to find our way. They were always helpful and friendly.
††††††††††† I remember one super hot day when my shoe fell off of my foot and my dad had to walk back about 3 miles to find it. I remember sticking my foot out and hitting a construction cone, it was very solid. I thought it would fall over, but instead I had a sore shin. I remember putting my helmet on with a creepy crawly bug inside of it. I remember playing with sage and my mom being allergic to it. I remember carrying turtles all the way home from South Dakota for pets and having them run away a week later.
††††††††††† Packing up for a trip meant rolling all your clothes (including underwear) to make the smallest package imaginable. It meant packing rain gear and warm cloths no matter what the season. It meant one pair of shoes.††††††††††† My favorite jean jacket had a patch on that said, ďIím a girlĒ. My mom bought this because she was afraid everyone would think I was a little boy all dressed in denim with a helmet on my head. The jacket accumulated lots of patches and pins from the numerous motorcycle rallies that I attended with my family. These rallies were always filled with friendsí of my parents.
††††††††††† Later on there were the trips out west with my mom. I would fly and spend the summer with my momís family in North Dakota and she would come at the end of the summer and pick me up on her motorcycle. It was on these trips that I learned to dislike gravel. I could always feel her tense as we approached the stretch of gravel that lead to my Auntís house, my body would become tense in unison with her.
I would not trade my memories of sharing that orange pup tent with my brother and traveling down the seemingly endless highway for anything, but finally I was burnt out. I had been on the back of a motorcycle and around motorcycles too much. It was no longer cool (at least in the eyes of a self conscious teenager). I had forgotten all of the cool campgrounds, wonderful sights, beautiful scenery and interesting people I had met during those trips. In fact it became an embarrassment. I remember a day when my mom picked me up from High School with her motorcycle. I thought there was nothing worse than having to get on the back of that motorcycle when my friends might see me. I didnít want anything to do with motorcycles.
††††††††††† In spite of my burnout, I only needed a few sparks to rekindle the fire that still burned. Motorcycles are a huge part of my family and riding is in my blood. When I went to college, my first boyfriend was very content to have me as a passenger, but my second boyfriend wasnít so easily satisfied. His name was Dave and I married him about 6 years later. After a few rides on the back of Daveís bike, he suggested I get my motorcycle permit and even offered to take the motorcycle safety class with me. The very first weekend I came home after getting my motorcycle permit my dad picked out a bike in the newspaper and I bought it on the spot. And I have been riding my own bike ever since! I started with several Hondas and finally bought my first Beamer in 97í, an R100RS.
†I have ridden to California with my mom, to Colorado solo and to Alaska with my husband. My bike was stolen and recovered on the Canadian border. I even hit a deer at 65MPH on the expressway. Recently I sold my bike to experience the world from our 37í Catamaran. But, I will always ride again. The time will come, as it does for all of us who have riding in our blood. I will always need a good supply of licorice and I donít think I will ever be able to ride over gravel without having my toes, in my favorite black boots, become tense with apprehension. And I always make sure my braid is sticking out of my helmet, so everyone knowsÖIím a Girl!