A goal was set each day, reservations already in place for our hotel, the number of miles we needed to travel predetermined. Sometimes it was 300, often only 200, many times around 500. Each morning as we packed up the bike again my brother outlined for me the places we would discover and the end city. He joked often that we had a short day of riding which actually never panned out. Each evening after showers, after dinner, a time was agreed upon for kick stands up in the morning. All these agreements were necessary for group travel, no actual leader. Maybe it was because it was vacation, maybe because grace traveled with us, but I discovered more than amazing new vistas. I learned what patience looks like.
At the pretrip meeting when I was told how to pack, that I really needed lip balm with sunscreen, I was also told that my vote counted just as much as the other three travelers. If I wanted/needed to stop I merely had to say so. If I wanted a picture, needed to eat or use the bathroom, was just ready to stretch my legs, all ok. I heard this but was so overcome with gratitude to be included that I didn’t want to be a burden thus determined not to ask for stops unless absolutely necessary. I think though the whole 2 weeks I only tapped my brother’s shoulder 3 times, my bladder screaming once and my pelvis another. The third time was when he asked if I was okay and I was frozen in my tank top, the temperature drop and pelting rain creating misery that I would have pushed through had he not inquired. Stop we did though, each time, and I rushed through my fixes only to find everyone else gladly taking a break. Coffee was ordered, bandanas re-wetted, tanks filled up again. Phones were checked, calls made to family back home. No one showed the slightest sign of frustration that I was slowing our progress.
We stopped for the others as well, like the time my brother forgot to pay for his gas. The pump didn’t take his credit card so he went inside to give the cashier his card, she chose not to hold it, turned on the pump for him, said, ” I trust you.” As was habit, he filled up, logged it all in his journal, we readjusted helmets and drinks and rode off. About 15 miles down the road he realized what had happened, pulled over, explained to our companions the situation. We all returned to the station to find the cashier and manager rewinding security cameras, trying to find the biker who rode off without paying. “You came back,” she screamed when she turned around at the sound of the bell tinkling as we entered. He apologized profusely, gave his card again. Outside, helmets were donned, drinks readjusted, then the cashier came running out. She hugged him, said no one ever comes back. We all rode away, knowing we were behind schedule but ahead in creating memories.
We stopped because we needed more sunscreen and my bandana had flown away. My trick of eating M&M’s as we rode not so successful. The little bag I carried in my borrowed Harley pouch had long melted. I peeled the paper open and scrapped the contents along my teeth, under my helmet. I was thrilled no one could see me, certain I appeared crazy desperate and chocolate covered. Remembering the still slightly damp bandana around my neck, I carefully removed that as we flew at 60 plus miles and snuck it under my face shield, cleaned myself up. But what to do with the messy bag? I wrapped it up in the bandana and tucked it under my leg until I could clean it all up at our next stop. Content with my ingenuity and a belly full of sugar, I went back to watching the scenery. Back to wiggling and rearranging myself, legs up on the pegs, leaning back, forward, to the side. Away went my forgotten treasure, my mess, my cooling towel. So we stopped at a Walgreens after our lunch, another delay. There we met Rene.
My brother went in and was greeted by this gorgeous African-American women with long braids and a huge smile. She asked if she could help and then did. He got the sunscreen, new bandana and more M&M’s for me. I waited outside in the shade, stretching my legs just a bit more. Out they both come, excited voices as she exalted over his bike. Apparently she had remarked on his attire, asked about his journey. He invited her to see the bike and she jumped at the chance. The rest was pure magic, pure joy. He told her to jump on, to grab her phone for a picture. Her shock was quickly overcome, she got on, pictures were taken. Then she hugged him, a real hug. One of those really tight man you are the best kind of hugs. She told me to take care of him, that he got me a surprise. Then I got a hug as well. The same kind. Rene knows how to hug. I’m really sorry for littering but wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on that stop for anything.
I could go on forever about the people we met at our stops, those are amazing stories to me. But something I have realized is that I am a bad traveler usually. I rush my Chef. I keep a timetable, I am always ready for the next thing. How many Rene’s have I missed? Every Sunday I holler up the stairs, “are you ready yet?’ knowing he isn’t but giving the signal it is time to go. Maybe it is easier on vacation, maybe it is easier when there are no children anxiously waiting. My look is composed of a shower, clean mostly matching clothes and some eyeliner. My Chef takes much more time with his appearance, things match, his hair has product, he smells good. Shoes match shorts, shirts are ironed. He just takes longer. So I rush him. I have felt quite righteous in this rushing, until two weeks of travel when I never got rushed. Even when everyone else was ready and my Plum needed to FaceTime. Even when I decided at the last-minute I really did want/didn’t want my hoodie.
Rushing through to the next thing, hollering about time to leave, washing the dishes while some are still eating, never staying until the end, that’s my thing. I’ve always attributed it to my hyperness but honesty now requires a deeper truth. I avoid people. I am not so comfortable in my skin that I stick around long. That whole being in the moment thing, again. Moments can last longer than I like. The example of my traveling companions was so powerful, so telling. Those moments are where the magic happens. Those moments are where you get the hugs. Those moments lead to M&M’s. I am trying to slow down, to offer that grace now that I am back home. I am trying to remember that our end city is set, our reservations for the night made. We get to have an adventure each day if we chose.