Wednesday, June 14, 2017

People Change

Last year I decided to drive to New England from here in Tennessee to visit a friend and to hand deliver a birthday gift to my brother and his daughter. He was turning 50 and she was turning 18 so I thought it would be nice to see them again. We don't get to see each other very often, maybe twice in 15 years.

I had a whole week off so I also thought it would be cool to visit Atlantic City. I love to visit Las Vegas and had never been to AC before. It's almost shocking since I grew up in the DC area and it's really a short drive from there to the Jersey shore. That seemed like light years away from me then, now it's hours closer than Tunica Mississippi which I drove to on Memorial Day weekend. I could check out AC, play some cards in the Taj Mahal before it closes, and then head up to Foxwoods. Then on to Boston and New Hampshire.

The strangest thing happened to me when I was driving through the Virginia/Washington DC area. I was driving my car on the beltway and the traffic was fast moving but intensely busy. I had previously debated riding a motorcycle for the trip but decided the car was a much better idea. The bike would have been much more challenging, which is what attracted me to the idea. But clearer heads prevailed.

As I was negotiating traffic I had multiple near misses and I was very much on edge in the driver's seat. I don't drive in heavy traffic often any more, especially since I took this job where I take a two-lane country highway at 55 MPH all the way to work every day. I distinctly remember thinking "I'm sure glad I didn't take the bike. This would be terrifying. You'd have to be a lunatic to drive a motorcycle in this area."

It was almost a half an hour later when I was nearing Baltimore that I realized I am that lunatic.

I used to live in Virginia, and I worked at a place inside the beltway. When I was twenty I bought a motorcycle, a Yamaha FZ 250. Not even a big motorcycle, a little one cylinder 250cc baby crotch rocket. I had never ridden any kind of bike before. I just went to a dealer, found one where my feet could touch the ground and bought it figuring I'd learn to ride it on the way home.

And I rode it all over the DC area. Inside, outside and on the beltway. Day and night, rain or shine. Only snow could keep me off the roads. It's not like the traffic in that area has changed either. If anything it was even more scary then because cars were such pieces of shit in the 80s. Even that bike ran on regular gas, which was getting tough to find in 1989.

It boggles my mind that it took me almost half an hour to realize that I have changed so much that not only would I not ride a motorcycle in that situation any more, but that there was a time when I did it without even a thought of how dangerous it was. I had forgotten who that person was and what he was like.

I know people sometimes say about their past "that was in a previous life" but sometimes it really feels that way.

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