I’ve been feeling very stir crazy but with a neutered git r done. My brain has been feeling like it’s frozen, locked up, like I’ve been rebooting. Nothing has been going on upstairs now for a few weeks. Just nothing. It’s the oddest feeling, kind of creepy. I even tried to make a list of things that sound fun and failed miserably. Me, the king of creative and random fun things to do came up with nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. My list of fun things consisted of three whole things. Top of my list was “Learn Quickbooks.” How ridiculous is that? The others aren’t particularly boast-worthy either. This mental meltdown has been driving me nuts. I feel like I’ve been just stuck in neutral. Well, at least until last Thursday morning.
Thursday morning I crawled out of bed with a mission. It wasn’t grand or impressive but it was a mission, none the less and it was MY mission: try to get the ol’ Harley running again. I hadn’t started it maybe once in the last, I dunno, year. It’s been sitting, patiently, waiting for me to come and give it some love. Rain, cold, heat. Just sitting.
So, out I went with the keys in my hands to determine the extent of my task. The pretty yellow Sporster was dirty… shamefully dirty. It’s rusty in many places. The old license plate was still on it despite my having received the new plate in the mail who knows when last year. The tires were cracked and flat. The inspection was out. The click-ity-clack of the starter motor told me that the battery was pretty much dead. My work was cut out for me.
First things first – fix the battery problem. After some work to extract it from the bike, the nice folks at Batteries Plus told me the battery is, surprisingly, in fine shape but just in need of a good charging. So, back at the house, I hooked up the battery to the charger and was quite pleased with my progress for the day. Truth be told, I felt a thrill! Ah, and it felt good, like a long stretch after sitting down way too long. Like I said, it wasn’t much, but it was something and I was pleased.
Friday, invigorated with the anticipation of the completion of my task, I bopped out of bed with – what’s this? A smile on my face? Where’d this smile come from? We’ll deal with that issue later. No time for it right now because I had a mission.
I hooked up the newly charged battery, gave the ol’ girl a modest wipe down so at least she wasn’t shamefully dirty anymore. And, as my heart pounded in my chest (should I dare even try?), hit the switch. The battery kicked the starter and the starter turned the big motor over. And over. And over. And… blam! Hey, it fired! Blam, blam, blam! Oh my gosh! Is it going to start? No way. I turned the switch off and cranked the throttle up and down twice (that’s one of my bike’s personality traits – she likes her gas fondled a little before waking up.) I hit the switch again and she roared to life. I nearly fell over backward. I couldn’t believe it. A great big ol’ silly smile just attached itself to my face.
I sat there in the grass for probably a good ten minutes watching the bike blast out big Harley growls while the motor heated up. Surely, I thought, as soon as I give it some throttle it’ll choke and die. But as I opened up the throttle, instead of choking and puking, the Harley growl crescendod in sync. Amazing. I was just shocked.
Ok, on to the next task on the list. I changed the license plate out and aired up the tires. Tires that sit tend to have a nasty habit of exploding soon after they are re-pressurized so I gave them a little extra air to stretch them out and went inside to shower. When I came back, there she was, just waiting to get rolling. And who was I to keep that beast from sitting still any longer. I put the tires, which hadn’t exploded, back to the proper pressure, verified my motorcycle insurance was still valid, put on my helmet and, nervously, headed for lunch on two wheels. Ah, how nice it was to ride again.
After I arrived at my lunch place I realized I was more than a little nervous about the condition of the tires. Sitting for a long time, cracked, and flat just minutes ago – yikes! And, on a bike, it’s not like you have a spare. Each tire tends to be really important. So, while waiting for my lunch date I called around to find some new tires. The guy on the phone said: Yup, in stock right down the road. Nope, won’t install them. Yup, know someone who might. Done deal.
Sure enough, they had both tires just like I needed. I paid for them and got the name of a place that would put them on for $25 each, cash. Great! Oh wait. I’m on the motorcycle, the one with the bad tires, and the new tires are sitting on the counter. The place that puts the tires on the bike is several miles further north. Hmmm. Now here’s an interesting puzzle for a freshly rebooted brain. (And this is the part in the story that Mom should stop reading. No kidding, Mom. Just close down the browser now.)
How the heck was I going to get the new tires (and the bike) to the tire put-er-on-er person? It was obvious. Tires are round and hollow in the middle, like donuts. I’m skinny, like a donut holder. I’ll just wear them like a big, black, rubber tube top! Brilliant! I could just throw them over me and drive them on over to the shop. Yup. Brilliant.
The really cute girl customer at the bike shop was laughing at me while I struggled to get the tires over my helmeted head while seated on the bike. After some work, I got them resting right about my mid-section with the front part on my thighs and the back part on my seat. They stuck out a good foot on both sides of me and were a little squirrely to keep stacked. With my heart pounding, I turned on the beast, backed out and took off down the way.
Picture the hilarity. Skinny little me on my bright, yellow, awesome sounding Harley Sportster wearing two motorcycle tires around my midriff driving down 183 (a major highway here in Austin) at a blazing 45 miles per hour (because I was scared to go any faster.) Cars were stacking up behind me. I’m sure people were laughing, too, but I was too engrossed in keeping the shiny side of the bike facing up to notice. I wish I had a picture of it. I’m pretty sure someone does and it’s already on some website poking fun at me. I was having a grand ol’ time, laughing almost the whole way there. At least until the Williamson County police car pulled out in front of me. “Oh shit!” is right!
Now, here’s where the story could get ugly. Williamson County police officers are known for their javelina hog-like personalities and overinflated egos. They are very “(Bang!) Stop or I’ll shoot!” kind of folks and proud of it. The whole “we don’t like yer kind in our town” started in Williamson County. I actually think that’s carved on their shield. Seriously. So, here I am, riding down the road on a motorcycle with an expired inspection, cracked tires, two new tires hugging my mid-section – a juicy target. But, hey, at least I had insurance.
I’m not sure what the police officer was doing but he apparently wasn’t looking at me. He drove on by and never even glanced up. Not once. Apparently, he didn’t look in the rear view mirror either because I was a hard sight to miss! I waved buh-bye all the way down the road. And then I exhaled.
After some back and forth, I finally found the shop that promised to install the tires (man, I gotta get GPS for my bike if I do this again.) It was a dive of a dive motorcycle repair shop in a back alley run by Jerry, a shaved-smooth bald guy who clearly works with his hands for a living. He was swimming in a sea of half assembled motorcycles, jet skis, and four wheelers. He was super friendly with a rough working-man demeanor and ready to help me out. His dog was friendly, too. Over the next several hours, we chit chatted about nothing while he changed out my tires. $60 later I was riding much, much safer (I rounded up $10 as a thank you for his willingness to do it right then.)
From there I headed to a garage that Jerry told me would perform a bike inspection. Nearly an hour later, I left there with a sunburn and new, shiny inspection sticker on the bike. I smiled almost all the way back home. Mission accomplished.
My smiles have become more and more common. Genuine smiles, not the fake-it-till-you-make-it smiles. No, I don’t miss Maggie any less. If anything, it’s hurting more and more. Part of me is still waiting for her to call or come home. There’s a moment every single morning when I catch myself asking “Now, when is she coming home again?” That hurts. But I’m becoming accustomed to it, so to speak.
Yesterday I had to go buy some workout clothes at Target. I was remarkably unhappy about the whole trip because Maggie was my store navigator, fashion coach, appropriate-size finder, and fun-to-shop-with gal (yes, my everything.) How the heck was I going to do this myself? Fortunately for me, Martha agreed to hold my hand for that first trip and it went ok. But there’re a bazillion other “firsts” I have to go through, too. One at a time, I suppose.
Otherwise, I’ve been staying busy. Since Friday, I have:
- Built a washer-tossing pit
- Helped roast a 50 pound pig over a fire (by “helped” I mean “watched” and “ate some”)
- Picked poison ivy shoots
- Won a chess game
- Moved a fridge down two flights of stairs
- Moved a couch, a love seat and a dryer up a flight of stairs
- Oogled girls at Hula Hut
- Explored the menu of a newly-opened restaurant at Oyster Landing
- Hung out at Mean Eyed Cat, Austin’s local Johnny Cash joint
- Listened to a band at Barton Springs under moonlight
- Hula-hooped seven hula-hoops at the same time
I’ll keep my feet moving. Finally, I think my brain is waking up. I have hope. And now, a new smile, too.