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Friday, February 20, 2015

Just Because

I sat sipping the steamy brew; my growing excitement not yet obvious to the others at the dinner table. With each prompting phrase, my heart rate increased and visions of zooming freely over the miles filled my thoughts.

“Our truck’ll be near that town next week. We can drop by your parents’ home and pick it up for you; c’mon let us bring your bike back to you,” Tom* said.

“You’ve made a pretty compelling argument,” I said, never once giving a thought to the area’s terrain. I laughed, joy spilling out through my response. “Okay, do it! Bring my little Honda back to me. I can save money on gas, too.”

The following week, my beloved red and white Honda 175 CL motorcycle rolled down the freight truck’s ramp and into my waiting arms. Joyous images of flying down the highway, wind cooling my arms and face had consumed every waking hour (and most of my dreams), since that conversation over the delicious cashew casserole. Today being Saturday, these dreams would become reality.

“Go ahead, give ‘er a kick,” the truck driver said. Guess he’d noticed I’d already climbed aboard. “I’ll go get your helmet from the passenger seat, while it idles.”

Both hands had fallen comfortably in place on the handlebars the second I’d grabbed the bike and flipped my leg over. The machine tilted slightly to the left, because my short stature made it impossible for me to actually straddle the bike and stand erect with both feet planted flat on the ground.  At the driver’s urging, I placed my right foot securely on the kick-starter bar and executed the familiar little jump. Nothing.

I repeated the action several times with the same results. My face began to warm to that uncomfortable red glow. At least, I’d known better than to just push the electric starter button on the handlebar, I thought, trying to console myself.

“Hmm? Guess your Pop didn’t keep ‘er runnin’ for ya for the months the bike’d been parked in their garage, uh?” I shook my head. “Well, no problem. Just put the charger on it for a bit and she’ll be purring before ya know it.” He handed me the helmet and climbed back in his truck.

My morning’s disappointment dissolved that afternoon as soon as I pulled onto the road out of town. How I loved that sense of freedom when riding along in the open air. The deep ruts on some of the side streets had challenged my abilities in slow, motorized maneuvering over rugged terrain. Now, enormous grin painted in place, I hit the paved highway and twisted open the throttle. Va-roo-ooom!

Normally, I snapped the plastic face-bubble onto the helmet when riding the interstate highway on the other side of Montana, but I figured it might not be necessary on the slower, isolated county roads of the eastern plains. My toothy-grin faded soon after opening-wide the throttle. The county road in this agricultural zone had as many flying insects in the air as grains of wheat in the fields. My face felt like a magnet for every one. Okay, note taken; bubble snapped to helmet next time out.

I delighted in securing my leather briefcase to the back of my Honda each morning. With cowboy boots on my feet, I sometimes laughed at the mental picture of a “modern cowgirl headed for work,” as I flipped my leg over the bike and mounted. Tootling around for errands had become enjoyable instead of necessary drudgery.

The bike took up a lot less room in the parking space; and at about $2 for each 119 miles traveled, less expensive. I loved my motorcycle.

Then, the dusty ruts turned into slippery, muddy zones of hazard. Maybe if I’d had a dirt bike instead of a street bike, my tires would’ve handled the climate change better; but what I’d found fun in the summer months, transformed into mud-splattering slides and slips as soon as autumn arrived.

I never dropped the bike—biker lingo for falling off—but I rarely rode once the precipitation began. It caused too much anxiety and proved too much effort to stay upright to be any fun at all… not to mention I never arrived anywhere with clean pant legs.

I’d experienced winter biking on paved city streets the first year I had the Honda. Even then I’d known it was crazy to be out in the blizzards, stopping frequently to wipe the snowflakes off my plastic face bubble. Here in the rural land of unpaved, gravel or dirt streets, riding my motorcycle was out of the question, completely.

In the absence of any weatherproof shelter in which to store my Honda for the arctic, double-digit below-zero temps of Eastern Montana, I had but one choice—sell my red and white treasure.

The afternoon I watched the same truck driver push my Honda up that ramp and secure it in the cargo area, I fought back tears. My intellect battled with my heart; I just couldn’t use the bike most of the twelve months of the year, so it made sense to let it go. The driver slammed the door, flipping the bar to lock in the truck’s cargo.

Turning to me he said, “Did you have fun while it lasted?” His sober face responded to my slight smile. “You betcha?”

“You betcha!” I said, widening my smile. “The best two months of my time here so far.”

I watched from my front yard until the truck could no longer be seen. As I did I thanked the Lord for making it possible for me to enjoy my motorcycle, as well as for showing me that this really wasn’t the place to have one.

So, why didn’t God just keep me from having a way to get the bike there in the first place? From my point of view, there’s only one reason.

God knew how much pleasure I’d have with the bike; that’s what mattered to Him. I’m confident the Lord smiled as I rode each passing mile; He may have even given a big, “Whooppee!” right along with me.

 Our Heavenly Father created that special joy a father receives when seeing his children having fun.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, ‘rejoice’!” (Phil. 4:4)

* Name changed

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