It felt like I was from another time, walking into that dealership. Overly large, overly bright, and overly shiny. Against a backdrop of brand new Harleys, modern and soulless; racks of unworn leather jackets, unused parts and accessories… I felt like a curious relic. There was something about that spacious, immaculate showroom that didn’t quite square with my rebellious sensibility. I made my way with uncertainty to the front counter, feeling like I was operating on a different frequency, in some sort of warped alternate universe.

I told the woman that I had a bike brought up that morning from Connecticut; she nodded and pointed to the back of the warehouse, to the service department. I made the mistake of listening to myself as I spoke – it sounded like another person was talking. How long had it been since I’d been in a shop like that? I didn’t even want to think about the passage of so many years. Like a different lifetime.

I can’t recall why exactly I moved to Florida or what it was I was searching for. Suffice it to say I didn’t find it. There was a boyfriend with a Sportster who had gotten himself a job at a Harley shop as a mechanic, and with many vague ideas and half-baked romantic notions, I followed him. I went to college; I didn’t go to college. I met similarly lost souls in late-night bars that played bad southern rock on the jukebox. I plucked oranges and grapefruits from my fruit trees, and got drunk with shady but colorful characters, some of whom are probably dead or incarcerated now. I learned carpentry, I worked temp jobs, I stuffed envelopes late at night with other biker chicks, and got stoned a lot. And eventually I had the good sense to leave.

Some of these memories came to me as I stood at the service counter, gazing wearily into the cavernous repair shop at the ’73 Servi-Car that stood proudly like some sort of Egyptian Pharaoh exhumed from a bygone past. I felt bleary and ill at ease as I related information to the service manager.

Damn. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say that my old friend seemed relieved and elated to have been emancipated from the claustrophobic confines of my parents’ garage, deep in the forsaken bowels of suburbia. Back amongst its own kind, though, like me, just a little out of step and out of time. But unlike me, looking and sounding damn fine and unflinchingly confident.

I exchanged the necessary pleasantries and got the hell out of there as fast as I could. All the old ghosts chased me back to my car as I fought to regain my equilibrium.

It is of no use whatsoever to hold onto regrets or to wish for those years back. A terrific waste of time and energy. All you can do is take what you like, discard the rest, and move on. As I did when I packed up and left the land of misfit toys and moved back up north – taking that beautiful motorcycle with me.

St. Petersburg, Florida, circa... never you mind!

St. Petersburg, Florida, circa... never you mind!

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