Life can pour it's black liqours all over me, can do it's damnedest to make me crawl, make my head pound with unshouted words, can beat on me until I want to bow my head, but there's one trick I know that can vanquish the sharpest of life's slings and arrows. Her name is Miranda.
My bike's new pipes arrived, compliments of a friend, almost two weeks ago now. I carefully brought them home, just as carefully installed them, and that same cold morning I turned the key on, flipped the ignition switch to RUN, and started her. She idled for a few minutes, I blipped the throttle to hear her bark through her new lungs, and then I turned the key off. It was far too cold and wet to be riding that morning, and I still had tools to put up and chores to do. When I returned to let the wife listen to Miranda's new voice, she wouldn't speak. Battery too weak to produce a spark, she was silent, and I was crushed.
A huge wad of money changed hands, and I waited a very impatient week and three days to get my new battery in. Vulgar Wizard and I endured a good morning and a terrible evening today, full of whiny shouting and supposedly overworked aides making noises with the holes in their faces, and when I heard that my battery was in my surrogate daughter/current boss lovingly let me leave that miasma of anger and bitten-back words so I could retrieve my prize.
Arriving home the trip through after-work traffic had done nothing but make my anguish heavier, my headache worse. With tired fingers I stuffed battery into battery tray, tightened straps, installed bolts, covered compartments up, and reinstalled the seat. With fearful expression I turned the key, hit the starter, and Miranda rumbled into life with a sound like a pot of boiling lead set to full heat.
Wearing naught but a t-shirt and sweats, knowing full well what I intended I threw one leg over and walked her backwards out of the garage and into the driveway. I eased her out onto the road, hunkered my 72" frame into a racer's crouch and hammered the throttle. Lovely Miranda, my redheaded demon roared off down the road, barking through each gear shift. Miranda screamed, the wind screamed, I screamed for joy and the sheer love of a thing, mindless love, living-in-the-moment enlightenment. Thoughts for nothing but the immediate sensation, the thump of the engine, the roar of the wind, the howl of the pipes. I reached the end of the lane, turned and did it all again, then turned again at the other side and returned home.
There is a thing that happens when I ride. When I ride, the wind plucks at me, pulls my clothing, twists the hair on my arms, yanks at my jeans. The wind reaches through me, reaches cool tendrils into my darkest hurts, reaches and pulls with determined but gentle fingers until my worst biles and blackest humours are in tatters and strings, pulled from my body like mud cleared from a streambed. As I ride, the black streamers are left behind me to tumble and roll in the wind of my passage, left on the side of the road to tremble behind plants, hide in the shadows of beer cans and empty bags, lurking in empty cigarette packs, there to perish in the sun's light and heat.
I walk inside a lighter being, made light from inside and out, the remains and tatters hanging from my bones like thread pulled from a sweater, there to blow softly in the gusts from my lungs, powerless to hurt me anymore.