I woke up early to a familiar sight, my dad doing the crossword puzzle. But today the sight had a different meaning to me. This was the first time I saw my dad in the morning not preparing to go to work. He finally retired from his part time job at a pharmacy. I often thought my father would work until he died, after all, he knew no other way, working since he was a young boy. But over the years he has picked up some cool hobbies that fill his time. He has been an active member in his Triumph car club for years, but he also dabbles in model airplane construction, odd musical instrument restoration, and most recently, repairing watches. He has an inquisitive mind and DVRs Jeopardy! as to never miss an episode – an opportunity to increase his knowledge of the world.
I ate some breakfast and practiced the two sets of songs I was going to play at gig I booked at the New World Brewery in Tampa in two days time. While I practiced my Mom interrupted and said I sounded great. Like yesterday, I snapped at her. The poor woman just wanted to hear me play and my anxiety got the best of me. What a jerk I’ve become. My bitterness and living alone has festered into an inability to relax and interact with people. I have moments where I am socially awesome, but then I will slip and snap and negate the good will I have spread. I realized in this terrible moment that I could use some professional help. In the past, therapy has helped me a great deal. My elephant like memory churns on events long after others have fogotten them – saying I have a problem letting go would be a gross understatement.
After I finished practicing I tried to explain my feelings to my mother. She was obviously hurt. I am sure she wondered what happened to the carefree funny son that used to stuff an entire dinner roll in his face to make his brothers and sisters laugh. That guy wasn’t visiting this trip. I apologized and tried to perk up a little. I think she appreciated the effort but she can read my feelings like no one else. Sometimes when I call and I say “Hello,” she responds with, “What’s the matter?” She can immediately tell from my voice that I am in pain or something is wrong. I vowed to try to be nicer for the rest of my stay. I’m not sure I pulled that off.
I sat on the couch and turned on the Indianapolis MotoGP race. My mood picked up a little as my dad was watching it with me and he was stunned to see the 60 degree lean angle the bikes get nowadays when turning. I thought about a year ago. I was at Indy watching the GP for the first time in person. I was also lucky enough to take a track lap. My trip this year was a much simpler less adventurous one, but important in the fact that instead of running away, I was trying to reconnect with the family and friends I truly love. Granted I failed somewhat with my moodiness, but I tried. My mom cooked up some awesome brats and I considered this an offer of forgivness. She is such an understanding person and realizes that people have troubles. She’s the best mom ever.
By some odd coincidence, my best friend Tylor’s parents also live in Saint Augustine and he and his family happened to be visiting them. They invited me over for dinner and I thought it might be nice to give my family a break from crankiness. I arrived and was greeted with hugs and kisses from everybody. Tamara his wife has cooked for me too many times to count when I lived in the same building, and I was lucky to witness their son Oscar grow up from a baby boy. Tylor’s parents Bill and Bea and the greatest. They love rock music and still go to shows. Tylor was actually in Bea’s womb at a Who concert so Keith Moon’s zany drumming is imprinted on his spirit. Tylor’s parents always make a point to see me when they visit NYC are they are ridiculously generous by picking up checks and buying rounds of drinks. Bill had the grill of full tilt boogie and cooked a mound of steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs that we chowed on for dinner. We blabbed about fun times and memories as Oscar drew pictures of battleships and airplanes. They are part of my extended family and treat me accordingly.
After a great deal of laughs and smiles I headed for home. The night was warm and beautiful and the moon was a sliver shy of being full. I thought back to my first brand new street bike that I got in the summer of 1982. She was a gorgeous 1980 Honda Hawk CB400T showroom floor leftover that my dad financed for me for $1600. I loved that bike so much I practically waxed the paint off of it during down times at my Dad’s muffler shop where I worked. I put on drag bars and a bikini fairing and it just looked amazing. I would drive around nights like tonight going absolutely nowhere. I would sneak my girlfriend Rebecca out of her house and we would ride around Jacksonville pulling over for a make out session. I was on top of the world when I had that bike. I was cool. The let down was that after a few months of ownership, I was hit head on by a car and the bike was totaled. I spent three days in the hospital with a concussion. The time when my life felt most perfect was shattered. I eventually got other bikes, but nothing matched the soul filling joy I felt when I was on the black Honda with the orange stripes, tearing around Jacksonville dragging from stoplight to stoplight. I need nothing else.
My low gas warning light flickered on as to snap me out of my time travel moment. I pulled into a neon fluorescent tourist trap on CR 210 and fueled my bike as dried gator heads perched on mountains of sea shells stared at me. “What a wacky state I grew up in…” I thought to myself. With the Brick’s thirst quenched, we headed the last couple of miles home, the night still wrapping me in her warm summer arms. I felt good riding on such a great night. I felt good riding on a similar night 31 years ago. Note to self: “Keep riding.”