Steve McQueen, Peter Fonda and Evel Knievel, they rode. I wanted to ride too man. In sixth grade some of my classmates were riding around on mini-bikes. They'd make ramps and spin in mud, drove in woods, all kinds of fun. By junior high I was left in the dust as most of my friends had been given motorcycles for birthdays or Christmas'. The mountain got smaller and their world expanded. The mountain for me stayed the same size because all I had were two feet and my old bicycle. No one wanted to ride bikes anymore. They had a faster mode of transportation.
I had wanted a dirt bike. Seems like a lot of my mountain friends were enjoying paths and old logging roads to explore with their bikes. I wanted so bad to join them. I once asked my dad if I could have one. Dad said no. At the time all my friend's bikes were motorized and I was stuck with my pumping my pedals to get where I wanted to go. Bikes were no longer cool, a motorcycle was the way to go.
Dad gave me a speech after I asked. As a lawyer, he said that he'd witnessed too many young boys permanently maimed and paralyzed from riding motorcycles. I understood his concern and so I never asked him again. It meant that I could not go where my friends went, nor hang out where they hung. Childhood friends were no longer home, somewhere away, or no longer interested in playing boyhood games. They wanted to ride. I did too.
I forgot about those years until today. When I finally learned to drive, my world finally expanded. I was no longer a child. My boyhood friends had already grown distant. I always kind of felt that my childhood friendships had faded during that time they could ride and I couldn't. For me, that was a time when I became distant because I couldn't keep up.
I see old photos of my wife when she was a young girl riding her motorcycle. She was the age I was when I was sparse on friends. Her dad let her drive around Glencoe, but there were rules. She had been firmly instructed to stay off of certain roads, within certain boundaries, and only in good weather. She once strayed from her instruction, seen by her father and got a bad whupping for it. She never strayed again. Even so ~ she still reminisces how much fun she had riding around as a kid. Mostly in the Summer it was to the pool and back. I envy her a little. I wanted to ride.
About fifteen years ago my father in-law had a motorcycle parked in his yard in Hokes Bluff. Walter asked if I'd like to take a spin around the house. There I was at forty-something being taught how to start, stop and change gears on one. I took it around his house a bunch of times, having a great moment, laughing all the way. I knew as I road it up and down the small embankments that I would've loved doing this even more as a teenager. I would've loved to have taken it up those trails and logging roads. I would loved going where the friends of my youth went. I laughed and Walter smiled every time I passed by him. It was brief but so much fun. I had known all along that I had missed something in my youth.