As I was sitting at the library letting my mind wander from the totally scintillating task of fine filing children’s drawing books, I realized that I was kind of lame and pathetic. It’s a hell of a thing when one minute you’re contemplating whether How to Draw Your Favorite Super Hero gets filed before How to Draw Your Favorite Super Hero Pet and you are hit with the overwhelming feeling of suck. (How’s that for getting to the point?) While I knew that I was a pretty decent person with a pretty decent life, I also realized that I was not the person anyone looked to and said, “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Super-René!” And that made me kind of sad, and mad, and, to my utter surprise, determined to do something awesome.
A few weeks before, I had been driving in an area of town that I didn’t usually frequent and came upon a very interesting sight—a line of motorcycles doing figure eights in the parking lot of the local community college. I had never been on a motorcycle before but I always harbored a secret desire to get someone to take me for a ride one day. It never occurred to me to try to be the person actually driving the damn thing! I figured I would be racking up coolness points just by clinging behind someone else. So as I drove by, kind of thinking it would be fun to take a class like that and kind of thinking “oh, hell no,” I forgot all about what I had just seen. I mean, it literally took me about three seconds to lose my focus. Squirrel! Life went on, and that was that.
But, then that day at the library happened. That day I decided to kick myself into gear and do something scary. Do something exciting. I was going to sign up for an improv comedy class! Seriously. I had pulled up the registration page, dug out my credit card and then…stopped. I wasn’t ready to make that step. Performing improv would REALLY be putting myself out there, and I just wasn’t ready to make that leap. So I searched indoor skydiving, fitness boot camps, roller derby and…nothing. Starting to get desperate, I searched high and low for the one activity that would make me feel accomplished and awesome, and it wasn’t until my co-worker mentioned seeing the motorcycle class practicing at the school that I realized what I needed to do.
Later that night I walked into my house feeling like I was fifty feet tall. I hadn’t actually done a damn thing yet, but that didn’t matter! I was registered and I was going to take the class. Done. Then I had to tell my other half what was coming down the pike. Not really sure how he was going to react to my impetuous decision, I was all kinds of ready to engage in a smack down. Color me relieved when my wonderfully supportive husband (this time) told me that he thought it was a good idea for me and that he was really happy to see me engaged in an activity. He never mentioned the cost, or the danger, or the fact that he was going to have to watch the boy for the entire weekend I was feeding into my existential crisis. I fell more in love with him that day.
The weekend of my class seemed to appear in a matter of days instead of the two months I knew I had to still change my mind from this wild idea. All of a sudden it’s a whole lot of panic over not having cool enough boots, or leather enough gloves, or protect-y (look ma, I coined a word!) enough riding glasses and the realization that I don’t know how to shift or use a clutch. I’m one of THOSE people. Talk about an “Oh, shit” moment. There really wasn’t anything that could be done about that deficit, though—if the instructors were good at what they were going to teach then I had nothing to worry about. Although, it still didn’t keep me from having nightmares the night before.
Why didn’t it occur to me that there would be paperwork? And reading? And tests? Did I really think they were just going to throw me onto a two-wheeled beast and just go for it? Uh, yes. Yes, I did. So imagine my surprise that morning when they took me (and lots of men and two other women) down into the bowels of the college just past the boiler room and three sets of restrooms—I mean, it was down, down, down there. After several minutes of copying driver’s licenses and showing proof of insurance, we had to go around the room and tell everyone why we were in the class. Whoopie. Of our group of sixteen I was one of only two of us that had never driven a motorcycle before and I was the only person who had never been on a motorcycle at all. The instructors seemed kind of impressed that I was there (which, I’m not gonna lie, made me feel validated) while some of the students sent out the vibe that they would run me over if I was planning on slowing the class down. So, I had that as an added bonus to the nerves I was already feeling.
Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Watch out for this. Watch out for that. Here is what this button does. Here is what that button does. Don’t start the bike until told. This is a this and that is a that. Don’t drop the bike. Don’t touch the bike. Don’t breathe on the bike. Don’t stand near the bike. Don’t even look at the bike…and on and on and on. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, after being warned about all of the dangers that could befall us while riding the motorcycle we were released and allowed to hike our way back to the parking lot. Plenty of time for my brain to start freaking out and panicking about what was about to come. I am nothing if not predictable.
First off, motorcycles are heavy! I don’t know why this had never occurred to me before, but I was shocked. I’m a big girl, but, damn, I could get crushed to death by a motorcycle. That did cause me some concern, but then I was allowed to fondle all of the buttons of the bike and swing my leg over the seat and actually sit on the thing. It was glorious! I was overwhelmed with feelings of disbelief that I was where I was and the pride in myself for having made my decision and going through with it. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and René was coming through. It was one of my better moments in life.
Turn on the bike. Turn off the bike. Turn on the bike again. Squeeze the throttle. Rev the engine. Find the clutch. Drive forward. Turn off the engine. Walk bike to starting line. Repeat. It was an exhilarating time of learning and fun. I didn’t think it was going to be such fun. I guess I was just too nervous to find time to think about what it was going to feel like to actually drive a motorcycle. The day went very well and by the time it was over I was exhausted and pumped up at the same time. Greg couldn’t get me to shut up about it. I slept so peacefully and I could not wait for the next day.
Ever have those wonderful feelings of rightness and that nothing could possibly go wrong? Yeah, that was me on Saturday. Too bad Sunday had to come around and basically punch me in the boobs. It was super painful to realize that I had pretty much lost my mojo and forgotten everything that I had learned the day before. One hour into the review of what we learned the day before, I was crying. The other students did start running me over when I was in their way. I was in a very bad place. Finally, one of the instructors pulled me aside and helped me get my shit in gear. She very calmly told me what I was doing wrong and how it could be easily fixed and then she told me something that made me respect her more than I ever would have thought possible. She looked at me and said, “Wait a minute. You were chewing gum yesterday, weren’t you?” I numbly nodded at her attentiveness as she walked to her backpack and found a piece of gum. “You need to chew this, it helps you focus better.” I swear that it was magic gum, because the second I put it in my mouth I was able to get back on track. She was a genius.
The day went smoothly (except for the time I forgot to put my kickstand down and almost got crushed to death—eh, it happens) and I was ready to take my driving test. Speed up to second gear, take the corner and shift down to first. Brake. Follow this tight figure eight. Drive over this piece of lumber. Go around that cone, speed up down the straightaway, downshift, and brake. Park the bike. Trek back to the hidden classroom. Take a written test. Wait for the results…
It never occurred to me that I would want to pass the class. That really wasn’t my objective in signing up. I just wanted to do something exciting and scary and out of my element. However, when it was ten minutes until the end of class I my leg was bouncing up and down so hard I could have used it to churn butter. I wanted that license. I needed that license. I was literally going to die if I didn’t get that license. And doesn’t it figure that I was the last person to find out my results? Everyone else was going up to get a piece of paper saying they passed the class and I was chewing my fingernails to the nubs. It was torture, pure and simple. But you know what? I passed. I practically floated to the front of the room.
It turns out that it really wasn’t a license at all, but basically a little certificate that said I passed the class. I would still have to take a trip to the Motor Vehicle office to have my driver’s license permanently proclaim that I was a bona fide motorcycle mama. Exactly five days later I was happily mired in a two and half hour wait to get my new driver’s license and it was some of the best time I had ever spent, anywhere. I now had state declared proof that I was allowed to drive a motorcycle on the roads of Colorado and beyond!
Here’s the funny thing though: I don’t really want to drive a motorcycle on the roads of Colorado. It’s just too fast and scary out there for a newbie like me. It felt pretty awesome to have made a plan and follow it through and for now that’s enough. But, ask to see my license and I may never stop talking again. It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s Super-René!
© DRB 2015