Introduction


It was either brilliantly bold or supremely stupid, and I am not sure I ever ascertained as to which triumphed, though the argument had raged in my head for years. What was irrefutable was it had to be done.

Comfort had gripped me and I was slowly decaying. The edge I once had was gone. I didn’t feel, I didn’t hurt, I just existed and that was no way for a person to live. No specific cause could I give, I just knew what the cure was to save me.

The job was a job and that was what it has always been. I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with, but the machine that runs a company will slowly grind you down. Most accept it, I could not.

    

Work for me had always been a way to make money to do what I wanted to do. So when I took a break from what many considered a dream job, it came as a surprise.

It shouldn’t have, really. If people knew me, and few do, they know I work better without a net. My writing, much like my life, is better spent staying hungry. I’ve never been one to worry about my career, or where I am going to live. Those details tend to take care of themselves. My angst is much more focused on what I am leaving behind. Why was I put here? What can I give people? How can I make this place better?

Meditating always finds the answers and the road is where I reflect best. The one question that stayed with me was the one I thought I had the easiest answer to. Leaving, however, is never easy.

Urges to run off could be dismissed as daydreams, but what I had ran much deeper. I didn’t know how far down it went and wasn’t really sure I was prepared to find out.

I did know I needed a journey. The plan was to get on my Harley-Davidson motorcycle and just ride. Libertad was the name I had given my 2003 Dyna Wide Glide when I bought it. It is the Spanish word for freedom and liberty is what she unconditionally provided.

The guilt was getting to me, since I hadn’t really reciprocated and I could tell she was hurt. The short rides we took on weekends were spent fighting, as Libertad coughed and kicked and battled me for the first 50 miles, finally relenting and settling down, but never really content.

          It wasn’t fair to the bike, really, and I knew that. We needed to get away. This was for both of us.

                                                                                                                                                             

There was no real itinerary, just a basic idea. The best trips are never thought out, just point and go, and that is what I was going to do.

The road has always been my panacea. Even when I was a kid, I was driving before I was supposed to. It started with a mini bike an old neighbor had and let me ride up and down the street when I was 12. It was a lawnmower engine in a small frame and even when I fell off of it, I wasn’t deterred.

I graduated to a moped and then to borrowing my friend’s Kawasaki until I could save up enough money to get my own. On the weekend I would ride up and down Pacific Coast Highway, going a little further every weekend. I know Los Angeles streets well because I spent many days venturing down them, seeing what went where, satisfied when I did, but always longing to go further.

There was a time in my thirties when I didn’t have a motorcycle, but I knew that I would again someday and was positive it wouldn’t be long until I was venturing away from home.

I’ve know for years my soul wanders, I could just never pinpoint the cause. I also spent a long time in denial. You get an idea of how you are supposed to live, and I never listened to my gut screaming out the path I should have been headed down.

My ex-wife used to accuse me of having Attention Deficit Disorder. Of course she used to accuse me of a lot of things, that’s why she’s my ex.

Actually the reason I left her was because of my need for adventure. It’s not her fault, really. Being married to a free spirit isn’t easy, especially when the concept of freedom petrifies you.

It terrifies many people, though they will deny it. The thirst for true independence is an acquired taste and most never find it palatable.

Riding across the country on a motorcycle seemed perfectly logical to no one but me.

There were the obvious arguments against this. The first being I was going alone. Dangerous enough in a car, but two wheel travel always increases the odds. The precedent, however, had been set. After riding out to Milwaukee in 2003 with a friend, I returned solo. A year later I took another Midwest trip and went both directions by myself.

Preparation for this trip began well before I ever decided to undertake it.

It was a vision that ran through my consciousness frequently. The thought of exploring this country on my motorcycle was a dream I had since watching a documentary on the Sturgis Rally when I was a teenager.

My primer was an automobile adventure in 1992. I was working a regrettable job at a small newspaper, making no money. I covered the Los Angeles riots and spent two days dodging cop's batons, rioter's rocks and bottles and gang member's bullets. For my service to my newspaper I, along with everyone else, was rewarded with a pay cut, due to the paper's financial hardship of not making an even grosser profit margin than the owner could accept.

I quit the newspaper, packed up my old Honda and went across the country with no tools, plans or experience. It seemed perfectly sane at the time. By the time I reached Boston I was out of money. Fortunately, I had a friend in Georgia and he got me a job waiting tables at a hotel. The trip was pretty much over before it began. I saw a couple things on the way back, but I was more concerned about what I was going to do when I got home.

Jobs, apartments, girlfriends, a wife, they all came and went. Ten years passed by quicker than I could see it. One constant never wavered. The dream to get on a motorcycle and discover this country.

I don’t even try to convince myself two months is enough time. It is an appetizer, but there may be enough in this morsel to nourish my soul, at least for a while.

It would be hard to leave. I met someone who I wasn’t going to get serious with, but fate had other ideas.

It was also going to be tough to leave my hometown. Sunset Beach was as close to perfect for me as I could imagine. It was quiet, near the water, the people were friendly and the attitude was non-conforming.

Recently though, the drainers of life had discovered the area and their paws were being extended. A Starbucks was rammed though the city council, built on a parking lot, as out of place as a prostitute at a Spring cotillion.

Real Estate prices were influencing the beach front homes. The decades old single level summer cottages and quaint two-stories were being bought and torn down with three-story boxes put in their place.

The obscene had invaded and they were winning. It was a war I couldn’t bear to observe. It wouldn’t be long before the charm, imagination and heart was bulldozed and replaced with faceless, soulless concrete square dwellings that housed people who didn’t have time to say hello.

They couldn’t change the Ocean. It was the mountain that couldn’t be conquered. The beach was mine, no developer or government official had figured out a way to ruin it. It was my peace. It would wait for me, greet me, talk with me. I could walk alongside and we would share our stories, laugh and cry like old friends do.

That would be what I would miss.

As the days grew closer to my departure, so did my level of angst. The doubts kept calling and the reassuring talks I would have with myself were increasing.


                                                                                        

The details of the ride were minimal. The packing was done a week before. Preparing my mind took much longer.

The day came. I spent the afternoon before with friends and family. It was nice to see those who supported me and believed in me. What I am doing is not normal and they were kind enough to not ridicule the idea.

In the morning, my girlfriend and I awoke. It was awkward, we both knew it would be. We stumbled around the house in the early morning not really certain what to do.  She didn’t want me to leave. She never said it, she didn’t have to.

That goodbye was difficult, but I had one more to make.

From my apartment door I walked 85 steps to the sand, across the soft grains that separate me from the water. When I reached the Pacific Ocean, my beach, my home, I looked at the footprints my boots made on the firmer sand and stared at the cool brownish/blue waves that gently crashed into white foam.

The pause was brief, the goodbye even quicker. I turned my back on the sea and returned to the bike. I started Libertad up, and pulled out with my eyes straight ahead, careful not to make eye contact with my town. I was on the freeway headed north before the bike was even fully warmed up.