I got up early and drove over to the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I got there I walked right up to the desk and asked to take the motorcycle operators test.
“Computer number four.”
I turned around and walked over to the touch-screen computer and began taking the written test. When I finished I had two wrong answers out of twenty. I got up and walked back to the front desk.
“Howd’ you do?”
I began wondering if they were going to bother checking my score because they all seemed pretty laid-back. Maybe it was the heat outside. No one was moving too fast or getting too excited today without a good reason.
So I took my completed form and went next door to the license office where I talked to an interesting woman with a lot of tattoos. My favorite was the hummingbird on her right arm though there were plenty of others to choose from. The woman told me to step back and took my photo, then she told me to have a seat. Less than five minutes later I had a shiny new motorcycle permit (with a bad photo) in my hand. The whole operation took little more than a half an hour. The day seemed to be off to a good start.
I stepped back outside into the extreme heat and humidity. Debbie went to get the oil changed in the car so I called her and said I would be waiting inside the McDonalds conveniently located next door. Next stop was Taylor’s house to inspect my new toy. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be home at his house but he was still at home. He opened the garage door and pulled the Funduro out into the alley. He also had some well-worn gloves and a dirty helmet for me to try on. It was very hot even in the shade of the garage. My stomach was feeling a little upset and I was sweating buckets inside the helmet. I figured I would cool off (a little) once I started moving so I went around the block a few times with the intention of riding the bike back home once I got the hang of the clutch lever.
After a very short while I was feeling really sick and unhappy with my sloppy stopping and starting at every intersection. I was having a hard time thinking about what I was trying to do and my long-distant muscle memory was failing me badly as well. I drove to the front of the house and stopped. Taylor looked at me and asked what I thought.
“I suck at this.”
I wanted to be happy and excited at that moment but I felt like I was going to pass out from the heat and humidity. I could barely stand up and I didn’t feel like riding the motorcycle all the way home in traffic. Back to the garage. The Funduro would have to wait for the weekend with the weather forecast calling for still more brutally hot weather. I was feeling pretty down and to make matters worse, I still had to go to work or eight hours. The day had not turned out how I imagined it.
Reading the motorcycle operators manual reinforced the idea that everyone else on the road was bent on my destruction. A healthy respect for danger is a good thing but I began to wonder if my youthful confidence would ever return or if I would be able to find joy among the potential disasters waiting at every intersection and bend in the road. Self doubt was having its way with me today. I worried about crashing and wasting money and everything else that might go wrong in life. Maybe I was expecting too much from myself after not being on a motorcycle for so long. I would need to start over at the beginning if I was going to succeed.