It is a warm afternoon, a lazy Saturday in which we attempt to see the world beyond reruns of Fast and Loud, or my choice: Fixer Upper. These shows always leave us wanting things we do not really need — more horsepower, more square footage. But we have enough and the forecast looks good, so we set off to feel the road.
You crank the motorcycle engine and it roars to life like an angry animal. I kick one leg over the seat and settle into the leather, wrap my arms around your waist and weave my fingers into a fist. I adjust my feet on the pedals and we speed off, T-shirts fluttering wildly against our skin. Resting my chin on the back of your shoulder, I find our reflection in the side mirror, our faces beam behind our sunglasses. Your beard bristles against my cheek, and I don’t mind at all. The landscape blurs around us as we whiz past plots of grass made remarkably green by last week’s relentless rain.
The noise of traffic hums beyond the rumble of the bike’s motor, but my own incessant thoughts are louder than all of this. It will take a while for my brain to downshift. I think about washing the sheets, checking my email, dusting the shelves and the lamps. I think about the six-page feature story that’s rotting on my desk and the fact that I’ve neglected to hit the gym all week. I wonder if my cardio is shot. I see a bronzed runner glide past on the sidewalk, her legs are smooth and strong. I glance down at my own legs, lumpy as russet potatoes.
We idle at a stoplight and I watch people pump gas at the BP station; a big man walks a rust-haired dog and a maintenance crew hacks hedges into perfect squares.The middle-aged lady in the car beside us lowers her window to flick a cigarette onto the street and the silvery ashes float down. A ribbon of smoke swirls in my direction and I am reminded of an old tavern in Wisconsin where my uncle sipped beer while I chased the bar owner’s black Labrador, Pepper, around the massive billiard table. I still taste the musty air in that otherwise happy place, and I wonder why certain childhood memories are so vivid and others are like dusty photographs, warped over time.
We make a right turn off the highway and a sign says, “Scenic Road.” A towering tangle of trees arch and stretch overhead, forging a rustic canopy of bark and vine. Mossy nets dangle from the branches and I see the sun splintering through. Somewhere along this magnificent road, I forget about the work week, about domestic chores, about minor irritations and offenses. I do not think of my lumpy legs or the thousand other dings and dents in my appearance and my life.There is nothing other than this incredible expanse; everything else has somehow fallen away. The scenery ramps up and I can no longer hold worry in my mind’s eye. Instead, I see white jasmine clinging to weathered fences like fresh fallen snow and big-eyed cows roaming in billows of grass. This is a postcard day and we are a postcard couple, wild-haired, free and in love.
We sputter to an intersection and I see an Audi at the four-way. There is a woman chattering behind the wheel and a man in the passenger’s seat, tapping on his phone.Their windows are shut but I still hear the muffled sounds of their radio warbling in the distance. They are numb to the bliss outside their windows, the magic in this moment. We zip past them and cruise down a hill where a pocket of cool air caresses us and the countryside sweeps by in a bold and beautiful blur. The sky is a serendipitous shade of blue, and delicate wisps of clouds glide by like angel’s wings.
And this is how we feel the road.