This is not the first letter I’ve ever written. Funny to begin with a sentence that seems so obvious and cliche. Of course it isn’t the first letter I’ve ever written. My mind jumps to a human who hasn’t yet written a letter, or written anything at all for that matter. Do you remember the first time you wrote something? Was it a transcription, or a scribble? Perhaps that’s more a question of mark-making, not-so-much writing per se. When I think of writing…my mind drifts and I look over to my wadded up head phones breaching my keypad, my red notebook just to the right of the screen sitting un-open, they are tools, but not the venue. I checked the notebook first to see who had signed up for the first dedication letter while at the exhibition/fundraiser in Vancouver. It was you, J.M. I thought it fitting to begin with someone who I’d previously gone on a road trip with only last August, a road trip to Powell River, BC driving Old Blue, that old blue Toyota that finally stopped moving this year. We took it on one of its last adventures through the forest. Do you remember pushing it out of the mud with the rest of the wedding party? S & S married in the woods, bejewelled and veiled, exposed and proud, pioneers and inheritors, they made us all cry. Well, I always cry. I remember the golden light of the forest at dusk, reading a letter to them, knowing how brave they were, a kind of courage we should all strive for…as it seems to bring on fits of happiness, quite possibly a life well-lived. I think of them now as they both ride through birthplace, countryside, and family environments. They embrace what we all know to be true, armoured inside their tiny blue Suzuki, remembering just how much they are admired by a grander scheme of love than one handed down by prejudice and ignorance.
I’m sitting at a desk, but as you know, I’ve been sitting at the wheel, no, not a wheel, handlebars, sitting above two spoked wheels, I am no longer traveling by car across the US as I once did in my early twenties. For all the complicated reasons I’ve chosen to move back to Florida, riding my motorcycle from Vancouver to Fallon so far feels more like physics rather than theory. Judging by my maps, it appears I have many miles to go. Within moments of exhilaration for the indescribable imagery I’ve witnessed, has been fear battling it out with joy. My hand clinches down on the left handle, it aches from the grip. I accelerate, I decelerate. I curve, I go straight. I think of that book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” and wished I’d finished it, but glad I know a few things about the bike. I look at the pavement moving like a river under my wheels, my feet appear to skate above the asphalt rapids. All roads are connected by the land beneath them, and I move my eyes back and forth between pavement, trucks, mountains, dirt, water, sky, and that out of focus place that has no name, that horizon of thought that grips you tighter than a hand ever could, and places you inside a vault of thought and memories unreachable by no other human being. When I realized this journey was about forgiveness, I knew it would be harder work beyond the body battle of endurance. When I feel my body stiffen, ache, and crack, I am encouraged…it means this body is becoming stronger, that it is learning and adapting from the challenge it is being put through. And, just the moment after I am in my body, aware of the wind and curves of affectation, I let go a little, my hands release their grip, my centre of gravity transitions to free-float, I am floating in the shallows of the river, letting it drift me to where it needs to go, where I need to go, picking up all the bugs and grass, the dirt and grime, I absorb. The bike and I move as mechanized hybridity over this hardened landscape of doubt. In the vestige, I am free.
Thanks for always asking good questions, J.M. I hope one day to read your writing and find out where all those inquiries lead.
To turkey, dressing, and cranberry sandwiches, and naps on the edge of the continent.
p.s. day 12 of travel back to blue