Monday, July 18, 2011

My Past, My Present

Here are three stories from my weekend...

To grasp their significance, it's helpful to know that I was a shy child.  Someone who rarely attracted attention.  My parents complained that I "always had my nose in a book."  My childhood was uneventful.  An avid comic-book reader, I suspected I had several superpowers but lacked the chance to deploy them.

Flash forward to today.  On weekends now, I switch from my trusted steed (BMW) to my fleet stallion (the speedy Yamaha).  On my racehorse, I push the limits of physics and prudence.  I accelerate like a rocket and lean so low in turns I can chew the grass.  I gobble daredevil adventure in big gulps.

On Saturday night, I rode to a friend's BBQ.  The Yamaha announced my arrival with a throaty exhaust-note and quickly garnered the attention of a bevy of boys.  They ran from the pool and ogled my bike.  Their excitement was palpable.  "Wow, man!  Cool bike!"  I laughed.  Forty years ago, such adulation would have meant the world to me; now, it's entirely unimportant.  I ride for what riding offers me -- visceral thrills; the impression others have of my passion are besides the point.

Second anecdote: Yesterday was a beautiful day in New York.  I decided to ride to an arts & crafts fair in Long Beach.  On the way there, I pulled alongside another motorcyclist.  I knew at a glance that this dude was the real deal and not a poser.  His confident demeanor and distinctive gear told his tale.  Closing up on him, I noticed he was rocking outlaw colors.  Authentic ones, not the faux-badboy look embraced by suburban imposters.  This biker was a genuine tough guy. 

I pull up next to him.  He turns to me and flashes a two-finger salute.  I return the gesture.  We ride together for a while.  We synch into perfect harmony.  Our bikes move as if they were connected.  We both savor the warmth of the sun on our bare arms.  For a memorable moment, our differences dissolve and our commonalities seam.  Finally, with a wave goodbye, my new companion splinters off and heads down an exit.  I proceed on to my destination, the fair at the beach.

Third anecdote: I'm walking through vendor-booths on the boardwalk.  I spy a cute halter-top dress under a sign saying, "All Dresses $10."  I stop, shop and haul away my prize.  It's bright purple; you'll see it later this week.

In the past, I've been too intimidated to shop publicly for women's clothes, especially in a crowded scene like this.  But I faced that fear, drained it of power, and now comfortably enjoy filling my closet.  Like decreasing-radius turns and outlaw bikers, social opprobrium doesn't scare me any more.

What did you do this weekend?


  1. I have to say that your story about riding alongside that bad-ass biker dude was beautiful.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  2. My! You ARE a complicated man! (meant as an awe inspired compliment) I mean seriously, does that ever hit you? You're a thrill seeking, bike riding "he man" who also enjoys womens' clothes. On the surface a complete paradox. But aren't we all really? Are any of us completely what we seem (at least to others)? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! ~Serene

  3. The anecdote about the motorcyclist- what a fantastic story! It's little moments like that that really make life enjoyable.

  4. I have wondered about your shopping habits.

    The biking stories reawakened a desire I had in my early 40s to have a bike and ride. I got caught up with a group of bikers riding from the Sturgis get-together years ago and I could easily grasp the romance of it. I make do with a little sports car and I like its responsiveness.

  5. Great stories.
    I remember when I feared buying womens clothes. It was easy to overcome though as I didn't want to continue denying myself beautiful things.

  6. What a cool post. I loved the anecdotes, you write beautifully.

  7. Awww!! I loved reading this!! First off, which was your favorite comic? I used to really like The Black Orchid, but I only read the same one over and over.

    Second, EFFING PURPLE!!!! My favorite color!!! Squeeeeee!!!!

    Third, you simply, effing rock. I love that you have the confidence that you do. I love that at times I think of you as this successful, well-polished individual, and yet also a friend I could share a fart joke with. :D

  8. I respect your courage a lot, both for shopping in public and for riding motorcycles. Overcoming fears frees you to have an enjoyable life.

    My weekend was pretty awesome too. I got a haircut, bought a new phone (though not activated), and saw the latest Harry Potter.

  9. You've come a long way, baby. Doesn't it feel awesome? :-)

    "For a memorable moment, our differences dissolve and our commonalities seam." LOVED IT!

  10. I like this post. It put a giant smile on my face (you'll be happy to know that I DO smile after all the scowls you've been seeing lately). My favorite was the story about the biker dude. How flipping cool.

    P.S. Is there any particular reason many motorcyclists ride so close to the center line?

  11. Those all sound like such powerful, empowering moments for you, Ally. I especially love the one with the tough guy biker - that the two of you could be united in your presence with the bikes.

    This weekend...I played board games with my husband. We drank wine and put on a bunch of music and battled each other's wits. We're very closely matched.

    I also played a sport (I know, I am so NOT a sporty gal) and it felt so good to run and move in the light cool rain. It was good to be alive.

  12. It's so nice to get to know a bit more about you. I was shy as a child as well. what a fantastic post and loved the way the story about the biker was written. Enjoy your week. :)
    This we. I had bday activities... still going strong!

  13. These are very cool stories! I used to be very shy as a kid myself. I imagine it must be difficult to buy clothes without trying them on, but I applaud your courage to buy them without second thoughts!

  14. Such a great story on your weekend. You really made me want to ride my motorcycle. And riding beside a real-deal biker is totally bad ass lol

    I'm also really happy to hear that you shopped for a dress and embraced it :) Can't wait to see it on you.

  15. What a great writer you are! That story about the biker-guy was strong and poetic and you have such a way with the written word.

    I cant wait to see the new dress, but more importantly, im thrilled at your new found ability to do what makes your heart sing;). Way to go!

  16. I love your natural kinship with other bikers! It's so interesting how people connect in these ways. My dad owns a VW van, and nods or waves to drivers of the same vehicle. Such a great story, Ally. I could picture the entire event in my head as I read. Can't wait to see the new dress!

  17. I can relate to that first story.
    I find it amazing that something that meant or could have meant the world for us 20 years ago, now I could care less about.
    I guess I am writing this because I just found out my 20 year reunion is being planned - I really don't want to attend. It feels like it was a lifetime ago and I have no friends there. Just people i knew.

  18. It sounds like quite a fun weekend. And also equally fun that you purchased a summer dress from the vendors (for only $10, what a steal!) I can very much relate to your first story as well. I was a very shy child who preferred school and reading to being social. I am still a bit shy now, but have grown out of my shell. And in regards to those deli sandwiches, they weren't as big as I expected for $15.00! San Francisco has pricey delis as well, but there are at least leftovers. It was a pretty delicious sandwich though :-)

  19. I'm loving that you are bold enough now to shop in public!

    Hubby and I went to Olive Garden this weekend. Hubby's idea.

    Sounds perfectly normal, right? Well... he's never been to one. Ever. His mother is Italian-American, so for years he decided it wasn't worth trying. Couldn't possibly be any good....

    He loved his food. Who knew? My Brooklyn boy is becomming a true "middle-American"!

  20. This was such a beautifully written blog post- I love how each story was so different but so you at the same time. I was also very shy growing up so it's fun to gain more confidence as we age. P.S. Was Pandy riding with you? :)

  21. Beautiful post Ally!! Touching and true. It's beautiful that you're embracing like that all the different aspects of your complicated personality!! Surprisingly I was quite bold as a kid, but a bit quiet (you could easily forget I was in the room)! Kisses :)

  22. I hope you aren't a lanesplitter cyclist. That scares the shit out of me.

    I loved your stories. I'm so happy you feel more confident shopping for your dresses and pretty things. That made my heart go squish. That's a good thing, btw.


  23. Your writing is divine and I love when you tell stories like this ... and I love that you are getting more and more comfortable with yourself and shopping for your wardrobe ... it can't be easy and in fact, it was most probably terrifying at first.

    Hope your week is amazing.