I recently started writing to my blog again. I have a bad habit of being very self-critical. It's most likely because of my 6 years of journalism school at the University of Tennessee. I'm having to learn to not let the inner critic stifle my desire to convert my thoughts to prose. I'm currently journaling some of my cooking adventures as a way to get back into the swing of it.
Anyway.... This is a little something I wrote shortly after I started my blog almost 4 years ago. I thought you pholks might enjoy it.
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Looking back on my past, at first it seems to me that there wasn't a whole lot to my relationship with my father
. But when I sit back and truly examine it, there was a lot more there than I realize.
My first memories come back like many memories do: Not too full, but abruptly vibrant, like the glimpse you get out of the corner of your eye when a little girl gets on the bus in a bright red raincoat. You don't really register that the raincoat was red, but your mind tells you that that raincoat was the brightest thing around on such a drab, dreary autumn day.
Memories... They're really not just about thoughts that seep into our minds when we're in contemplation. They're who we really are. Memories make up a lot of our daily lives and they cause us to be who we are. Everything we do is based in memory. We remember that the steering wheel on our car was hot the last time we forgot to leave the windows cracked, so we leave them wide open in hopes that it will alleviate the problem. We don't turn left at the stoplight because the last time we did we got stuck in a traffic jam that caused us to be late for work. It's all about remembering what has happened to us in the past.
My earliest memory (and I know that it may seem kind of trite to try and recall earliest memories) are of riding on the back of my father's motorcycle to day care before he went to class at Texas A&M. I don't remember the motorcycle so much as I remember the sensation of the motorcycle. Every morning we would strap my lunchbox on the back of his bike and I would put on my little helmet with the Burger King stickers and climb on the back. I don't really remember what was on the lunchbox, but I remember that helmet. I can remember, years later, seeing that helmet in the great big metal cabinet in the garage and the memories of riding on that motorcycle would come back to me. I would climb on, or would be put on, I don't remember, and hang onto my dad's belt and away we would go. I can't really recall how long the drive was, and I don't even know what the final destination was in detail, but I do recall this: I hung onto my dad's belt as if my life depended on it. I would watch the curbs on the side of the road fly by as we motored to that seemingly distant destination.
Memory is a strange thing. Most memories are not fully lucid. They don't stand out in our minds every day, but they rise to the surface like whole hops in a full-boil beer brew do. Several gallons of water: Our brain. We add malt, and those memories change color and start to take on a distinct odor that we recognize. The malt dissolves and the boil takes on a different color that gives promise of what is to come. We add the hops at the right time, and those hops churn in the boil and transform the wort into new flavors, each flavor dependent on the amount of hops, the type of hops, and even where the hops were grown.
I would ride on that motorcycle and bond with my father. To others outside looking at us it was a man and his only son, riding together. The lunchbox tells all that we have a purpose, but when it comes down to it, I didn't care where we were going. I was with my dad, a man that I looked up to as if he was a god. I was his only son, and his only child. We were a unit.
I trusted, and still do trust, my father. As I got older, that trust waned, as it does when one becomes an adult , but it never really went away. Years later we would ride on his SilverWing on a road trip to a family friend's house to pick pecans. Mom, my little sister and my little brother were somewhere ahead of us in the family car, but dad and I were independent. I had my helmet on (no Burger King stickers. In fact, just a plain white helmet) and we were headed to the same place, but it didn't feel that way, because the mode of transportation was different than most other people we would encounter on the road.
That trust is implicit when climbing onto the back of a motorcycle. You place your life in the hands of another person, trusting that they will get you where you are going and will do so in a manner that will transport you to your destination in safety. The simple act of hanging onto my father's belt as the world whipped by my little body at speed showed that my trust was implicit. I held onto my father for dear life, and knew that he would do nothing that would put me in danger. I guess I learned at that early age that my father really had my best interests at heart. On that later motorcycle ride, I didn't hang onto his belt. I held onto the motorcycle. But that implicit trust was still the same. Dad and his motorcycle taught me that trust. I owe my trust in others to him. I climb on with others, metaphorically speaking, and I trust, sometimes recklessly and wrongly, but most of the time not, that they will not do anything to endanger me or themselves.
That motorcycle, and motorcycles in general, represent a certain freedom to most people. They do indeed represent that freedom to me, much as my Miata represents a certain kind of freedom inherent in the wind-in-the-hair experience, but I can't walk into a motorcycle shop or see a bike on the road or watch motorcycles on TV without recalling what it was like to take my first motorcycle ride. And when I take that motorcycle ride, I'm with my father, one of the greatest men to ever enter my life. A man that taught me that sometimes you have to climb on the back, hang onto the person in front of you and trust that they will do what's right for both of you.