I reconciled myself to having a different attitude about California about 5 years ago, when I drove my newly purchased 1982 Yamaha Vision to San Francisco from Olympia. At the time, my attitude about California was that it seemed shallow and consumer-driven. Contempt prior to investigation. It was an interesting period for me, right about the era I began this blog in preparation for a trip to Palestine and my heart warmed a little in the sunshine and landscape I saw. I was struggling on a personal level, trying to figure out my life purpose, and the motorcycle was “witness” to that period in ways I’m still only just understanding.
I sold the Vision as I reached the Bay to an old friend living in the hills of Western Sonoma County. My friend Frank was looking for just that kind of motorcycle, and at the time I didn’t feel so attached or appreciative of it. Almost 5 years later, he passed away unexpectedly recently and at his memorial his family suggested I come back to pick up the bike. He was such a kind man, and his love of mechanics (especially marginal ones) meant a lot to me as I thought about him and that vehicle. As Federica and I prepare to travel to Italy for 5 months and my job wound down, we had some time to make a visit. I didn’t know what condition the motorcycle was now in, but regardless our main interest was taking a kind of honeymoon and visiting our many friends (grieving, recently moved, old and new) down there. If all went well, we’d motor home on the bike along Highway 1 as our return trip.
We have spent the last two weeks wandering San Francisco’s Mission district full of murals and encroaching gentrification, burning a new friend’s artwork on the beach with her for a film project, traveling into the hills to live entirely off the grid, catching rides all over backcountry roads, and connecting with the restorative power of community. We have not been riding a motorcycle. While Persephone, as I now remember I called her, may one day ride again, at the moment she will bask (languish?) a bit longer in the warm Californian sun. She now holds a more complete story of origin and a myth for me, as a point of reference in the last 5 formative years of my life. We did a little ceremony at the ranch to appreciate the tools in our lives for the service they provide us, and I reflected on how a tool can serve a purpose we didn’t plan for it at all. Persephone now carries a little bit of Frank for me and she’s fired inspiration and driven me places without even starting to leave the driveway.