As of today, my husband’s been away from home for almost three weeks, piling up the miles on his Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle. He’s ridden from upstate New York to Louisville, Kentucky, then down to North Carolina, and back via the Blue Ridge Mountains to his sister’s home in Virginia. He’ll stop off for a night at our daughter’s house in Woodstock, and he plans to be back home the day after by the Fourth of July. Throughout his trip, I’ve been virtually holding my breath, and that explosive gust of wind you hear will be my sigh of relief.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. Since we met at Max’s Kansas City in 1973, we’ve never been apart this long – I can count on one hand the times we’ve been apart for even a week. Before embarking on this odyssey, he was worried about whether I’d be alright on my own, but the fact is, I’ve been fine. For company, I’ve got my animal familiars – Sirius, my chow/Australian shepherd mix, and Lunesta, my gorgeous and cuddly tabby cat. If I get cabin fever, I can always drive down to visit my daughter and granddaughters in Woodstock, just over an hour away. But I haven’t felt the need; I’ve been reveling in the peace and quiet of my solitude, interspersed with episodes of noisy community, chiefly involving music.
You may have noticed I never mention my husband’s name in this blog. That’s at his request. Many of my readers know him, but he has a public persona to protect, and he’s worried I may write something that could tarnish his reputation. Nonetheless he gave me permission to quote the following text, which he sent from early in his trip:
I’m at a McDonald’s somewhere in Southern Ohio waiting for a thunderstorm to pass by. At Indian Mounds National Park, I had this image suddenly of a great mob of Indian men ritually pissing on the circular wall surrounding the grave mounds, so I joined in. It felt right.
The Indian mounds are one of many sights he’s visited. He successfully completed the Tail of the Dragon, an infamously twisty road with hundreds of curves, and he toured the distillery where they make Knob Creek, his favorite bourbon. This southern excursion actually had a specific destination, the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Louisville, where he was a presenter. He’s exploring a part of the country I’d love to visit, and I’m mildly jealous, but I’d rather see it from the air-conditioned comfort of a nice, sturdy car. Maybe a Prius.
The first night of his journey, I was scared shitless. I diverted myself by filling a Poland Springs water bottle with Chardonney and going to see Iron Man 3, but the panic set in when I got home, and it lingered till I got the text telling me he’d made it safely to his first campsite. Since then, day by day, I’ve worried progressively less. In fact, I agree with my daughter: his journey is awesome, especially since he bought this motorcycle only last summer, hasn’t ridden in decades, and turned 74 this April.
When we met in 1973, he kept a motorcycle garaged in his storefront in Little Italy near my SoHo loft, but it was in need of repair and I never saw him ride it. (My first husband had a BMW, and I rode with him around downstate New York. We didn’t wear helmets back then, and he crashed the bike soon after we broke up, but that’s another story.)
So is he crazy to take this journey? Our friends seem equally divided. Some think it’s crazy; others think it’s cool. Many share tales about motorcycle mishaps that befell friends or family. On the lawn at SPAC last Sunday, chatting during the break between the Wallflowers and Tom Petty, I told a man about my husband’s trip, and he told me about the Kawasaki Ninja he rode until he totaled it. Yes, he was badly hurt, and no, he hasn’t ridden since.
But all in all, as my husband says, “If not now, when?” I’ll turn 72 next month, and I still downhill ski. He used to warn me that was too dangerous at my age, but obviously that argument is no longer valid.
I was going to tell you about my own adventures while my hubby’s away, but I’ll save that for my next post. I know I’ve been away from this blog for ages, but my new novel will be out by the time Bouchercon rolls into Albany in September, so I’m back with a vengeance. Please leave comments and subscribe, so I’ll know you’re out there.
And now, I’m off to hunt for a new swim suit at the sales at Boscov’s and Macy’s. That’s what I call REALLY scary!