For W.O. and everyone who came before and after him.
You used to ride a Harley. You rode a Harley when we met. You wanted a Harley when we met. You worked on Harleys. You wanted a Ducati. You bought a CBR because you liked to ride fast. You think motorcycles are stupid but your tattoos and everything else about you tells a different story.
I wear a size medium motorcycle helmet. The salesman was surprised. "But you're so little," he protested, because it didn't make any sense to him. "I have a big head because I have a big brain," I explained. I'm not sure he understood.
We rode fast and then we rode slow. Mostly we rode hard and then we crashed. When you think about it, we didn't really have a choice. It was get on or get off, so we got it on. And then we got off.
Looking back on all of you, I laugh at myself. I am nothing if not predictable. I miss each of you. I miss all of those opportunities to score some leather pants. Each and every single one.
When you contacted me the other night, it had been over a decade since we had last taken a ride. I am glad to be reminded of the person I've always been. I am glad my last name rhymes with a brand of hard liquor. I am glad you found me because it made me remember and find myself again.
I ride slower now. I think harder. I am less dangerous and less raw. Upcoming turns are not so scary so I don't need to take them so fast. I've accumulated the requisite amount of gravel beneath my skin. I call them scrapes now. Just like you did.
I hope you are all riding fast and hard and then I hope you get to ride slow too. I hope you all hang up your helmet at the end of the day and thank the entities who need to be thanked for the opportunity to ride another day.
And then I hope you wake up and do it all over again because our roads are long. Because each day presents an opportunity for our memories to imprint some hard tracks in soft asphalt. And because it always feels so fast and so good.