I rode my motorcycle for the last time six days ago. I love my 2004 Harley Softail Deuce with a 1584cc engine and custom flame paint job. Johanna (yes, I named her, and yes, she is Latina) is now sitting at a dealership in Little River, SC waiting to be sold. The last ride was a bittersweet moment for me that marked an end to a chapter in my life.
I began riding with my cousin Jack when we were 15. Riding used to make me feel free. Free from constraints, an expression of my independence. It would help me relax. I throughly enjoyed throwing on my jeans jacket and going for rides. Jack and I even played around with the idea of starting a biker gang: “The Hebrew Hammers.”
But I did not feel that same sense of freedom and relaxation during the last ride, I mostly felt nervous (…maybe because I was riding a motorcycle at 75 mph).
Two weeks ago my sister (16 years old) texted our family group chat asking if she could get signed parental consent to go skydiving (she is currently studying in Israel). I believe her intent in including my brother and I in the request was so that we could petition on her behalf. Unfortunately, for her, I thought it was a horrible idea.
This is why: because she was asking my parents to agree to put her in a potentially lethal situation that was not necessary. For my parents, there was very limited upside and unthinkable downside. I have no problem with people skydiving; I have done it myself a couple times. But risking your life is not a decision that someone else should be responsible for.
Back to me:
I have never before felt so responsible for my own life, specifically the success that I achieve in my life. With my family: success as a husband, son, sibling, and eventually as a father. As a human being: success in making a difference in this world.
And to be able to achieve those things, I need to be around. I have always been aware of the risks of riding motorcycles. But as the responsibilities of my life increase, I am less willing to take those risks (is riding a fixie bicycle in NYC less dangerous?). And that is what made me nervous the other day.
I am sad to see Johanna go. But I am happy for the different aspects of my life that require me to be present and on top of my game.