G and I are at a “point” in our lives. We have suddenly become conscious that we’re aging. Physically, we’re both in good shape. Yes, we could do to lose a few pounds (me more than him), but fortunately neither of us have any real health concerns.
We are typical late baby boomers – we grew up believing that we would never age. However none of the pharmaceutical companies have yet figured out how to keep us young forever, so we’re beginning to think about what we want to accomplish in our lives while we’re still physically well.
G was one of those guys who rode a little motorcycle in high school and at college. At the time we married he hadn’t ridden in decades. He’s not one to look at other women, but he used to get all dreamy eyed when he saw a motorcycle. For the first few years after we married he would suggest that he’d like to get a bike, and I was always dead set against it. “There are so many lunatic drivers on the road,” and, “why get a bike when you can only ride it in the summer months?“. The second argument flew out the window when we moved to Florida, and the first argument disintegrated when I realized that he’s seriously a responsible and sensible guy, and this was one thing that would make him really, really happy. He could have asked for a lot worse things, but all he wanted was a motorized, two-wheeled vehicle. So about 9-years ago he bought the first of many motorcycles. Honest to God, the day that he got that first bike was the happiest I have ever seen him. I have a photo of him sitting on his new-to-him bike and he is grinning like he just won the lottery (and this is a guy who doesn’t really show much exuberance). Since then he has had different bikes, each a bit bigger and fancier than the last. Now that we’re in North Georgia in close proximity to Appalachians, he spends either Saturday or Sunday each weekend on a day-long ride. This is what brings him joy, and keeps him sane in a career that is both stressful and mind-numbing.
He rides a BMW and their ownership group holds an annual pilgrimage to a different location each summer. This year it was Billings, Montana. Several months ago he decided this would be the year when he would attend the rally, even though Billings is basically all the way across the country from Atlanta. He made plans with another fellow to ride out and he spent hours mapping where to ride, what to see, and where to stay. When the heat began to build at the end of June his buddy backed out for his own perfectly good reasons. G was disappointed and decided not to go. He didn’t moan or complain, he just shrugged his shoulders and didn’t say much more about it. It was kind of sad. He was planning to leave on his birthday so the trip was going to be his present to himself.
Seven days before the rally he picked up a book on goals that I’ve been plodding through. The next morning he announced that he was going to ride cross-country alone to the rally. I asked him what changed his mind and he told me about a passage he had read in the book.
Regrets about unexplored avenues can feel more painful, however, at midlife, when we ask ourselves if our goals are still viable.
He knew his goal was viable this year but next year he could have physical issues, or he could be in a project at work where he couldn’t take off for a couple of weeks. He knew that he would deeply regret the decision to stay home and watch Netflix when he could have made this trip.
So at the crack of dawn that Sunday morning he headed out to a destination across the country. He was fulfilling his dream to experience his beloved U.S.A. on a motorcycle.
While he was gone for ten long days, I obsessively tracked him on Find My Friends and was relieved when that text arrived saying, “at the hotel”. There were nights when I woke up in a cold sweat and thought that was a “sign” that something had happened, but it was just me having little anxiety attacks.
My husband is the type of guy who always puts his own wants and desires on the back burner because of duty – to his mother, to do well in school, to me, to his job. So I’m really proud of him for being brave enough to say, “I’m not going to shrug my shoulders – I want this!” This trek brought him more satisfaction than a million weekends of binge watching tv. And he’ll have stories to tell over and over again.
He has inspired me to start thinking about what dreams I have that I will fulfill even if I have to do it on my own. Writing this blog is one tiny little thing … being brave enough to say what I have to say – out loud – even if no one reads it or likes it.
Oh, and yes, it made it out there and back safely. 🙂 By the time he pulled back into our garage he had covered 4,900 miles in 14 states, all in 90+ degree heat. Whew!