By CEAN BURGESON
About 14 years ago, I was blissfully unaware of how a motorcycle would change my life forever.
Single and working my first job as a legislative aide at the state capitol, I had few cares in the world. The rent on my tiny, slightly furnished studio apartment was relatively easy to meet each month, and the only other bills I had were a small monthly fee for the privelege of driving my Geo Tracker, and payments on a $500 credit card balance.
My days were spent toiling away at my little government job, and the nights were wasted on cheap beer and free bands at any one of East Lansing or Lansing’s assorted taverns. It was at one of those beer gardens that a mutual friend introduced me to a cute, curly-haired girl on a noisy Thursday evening.
After a few minutes of light conversation, the time came for us to part ways, and I felt the courage to ask her out slipping away. Then she said something that made my ears perk up.
“I have a motorcycle — you should take a ride with me,” she said.
That’s when I knew I had to get to know this girl better. How cool is a chick with a motorcycle? I got her number and asked her out a few days later.
If you haven’t guessed already, that motorcycle chick eventually agreed to become my wife, Tiana. We’ll celebrate our lucky 13th wedding anniversary in August.
The funny thing about her saying I could take a ride with her was that she hates riding with someone on the back of her bike. You see, my wife’s somewhat of an independent spirit, especially when it comes to the cycle. I can remember only a few times (maybe two) that I actually got to take that ride she promised.
So, the only way I could really ride the bike was by myself — if she would let me. And she wouldn’t let me until I took the state certified motorcycle class and passed to get my motorcycle endorsement. Which I did.
And then I got to ride the bike.
When we were first married, we were flat broke. College bills, credit card bills, and all the costs associated with starting a new marriage kept us poor but happy. With finances tight, that old Yamaha of my wife’s became our second car.
Rain, shine — or even snow sometimes — one of us would ride the motorcycle to work, while the other drove the car. Until one day we finally had enough money to buy a second car. So the motorcycle sat.
The demands of work and other diversions of life kept us from even taking pleasure rides on the bike. That’s when Tiana was offered a job in Washington D.C. It didn’t make sense for us to take the bike with us, so we sold it.
When two guys showed up at our door to pick the cycle up, it wouldn’t even start anymore. It had done it’s duty. The machine which had opened the door to our relationship moved on to greener pastures.
We went years without buying another motorcycle. Despite moving to Washington D.C. and later Los Angeles, we both kept our motorcycle endorsements current on our drivers’ licenses, hoping that one day we might again eventually buy another bike.
It wasn’t until over 10 years later that I got a call from Tiana while she was down in Detroit on a business trip. “I’ve found a bike and I fell in love with it. Can I get it?” she asked.
How could I say no?
So we became the proud owners of a 1989 Harley Davidson Sportster. It had a flashier paint job than our old bike. It was 1200 cc’s compared to the old Yamaha’s 550. I’ll admit, it’s a cool bike.
With gas prices soaring, I like to ride the cycle to work now. Six dollars worth of high-test gas will last me weeks. And it’s a blast riding down the road with the wind in my face, my shirt blowing back, and nothing but sunshine and road dust between me and the rest of world.
But I have to admit, I wonder sometimes, what ever happened to that old Yamaha. Is it sitting in a junkyard or backyard somewhere, rusting and unused? Or is it in someone’s garage, lovingly cared for and enjoyed by an owner who somehow senses the magic and history the bike had for a couple of it’s owners from over a decade ago.
I like to think the latter.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org