Flying into the East

September 19, 2010

5 AM.

Man, that is early. It’s pitch black outside. The night was filled with coyotes twirly howls and yelps. I slept in Lancaster, near the desert, and a gang of coyotes was on the prowl.

Yesterday was almost like a actual road day. Left Idyllwild in the morning, landed for a haircut and some last goodbyes in Altadena, then rode out to Lancaster. About 200 and some miles. You know what that means? I have now coursed over 14 000 miles since I left Vancouver on my Suzuki. The magnitude of this was not quite real until I looked at a map inside the in-flight magazine and was hit by the enormity, the sheer size of the continent…. Whoa.

I was just leaving Idyllwild shifting into third gear when it did it the first time. Bwaaa… Bwaa…. whaaaa…

Hmmm… what is that? Do I have enough gas? …yeah, I do…. I kept going.

I made it down the mountain without trouble but the same thing happened in third gear when I pulled out of the gas station, then on the freeway when I had to downshift for traffic. “Hold on baby, hold on” I said patting the gas tank. I told my baby to hold on because Steve is going to have a look at it while I go away. So I pleaded : Just take me there… you’ll get love and care soon.

I made it to Altadena. Got my hair cut.

After checking emails, google mapping my route and writing the highways to take on my wrist I was ready to go. Big hugs to Duane, Forrest, Donna, Corn Woman, Leslie, “I’ll see you soon!”

The route : 210 West, 5 North, 14 North then I’ll GPS the last miles to Steve and Suny’s house.

Traffic. Lane splitting, watch, watch, watch. I still get a sort of wild emotional buzz that covers the gamut of terror and fun flowing into my arms and heart when I lane split. It’s an exercise in math, calculation of angles, speed, acceleration and deceleration, converging courses and analysis of the factors of probability and behavior analysis based on wheel motion and directionality, grumpiness load and a driver’s affinity with motorcycles.

It’s quite Zen.

And F#$% scary at times.

Second, third, Bwaa, Bwaaaaa.. Bwaa.. Whaaaaa… Fourth, “Come on baby, we’re almost there, almost there….” I get on the 14 North. Up the hill, in the HOV lane. The speed limit is 65 the average speed is 85. My friend Aaron, the police officer, said something to that effect the other day : “ on the 2 people don’t commute, they qualify” as for a race. The same thing is going on here.

We made it to Lancaster.

Shortly after arriving I had to take all the luggage off the bike. This is a disconcerting if not upsetting act. Because usually it means that something has gone way wrong with the bike. It speaks of a kind of death, disability. It speaks of loss. Failure. It speaks of abandonment. Separation. I get separation anxiety each time I leave my baby.

luggage is off, clothes in the laundry basket. I'm about to leave my baby behind...

My bike. In a world of stuff and possessions’ obsession it’s all I got. All I have. And yes, I know, it’s just a thing, a composite of metals, plastics and other matter assembled under the nomenclature “1983 Suzuki GS 750 ES” But it’s everything I got. And to me it’s more than a thing… It is a being of sorts.

I always want to keep what I love, what I care about close to me forever. But this is not a ‘forever’ world as I have learned. The loves, bodies, and material things, they decay without mercy.

The rise and the fall. Life and death.

So I took all the luggage off. Got the pieces and things needed for the trip to Nashville in one pile and stored the rest. Steve and Suny will take care of you… Steve and Suny took care of me. A bed, a shower, laundry, dinner, great conversation. Steve is up at 5 making coffee for us. It is Suny who takes me to LAX at 5:30 in the morning. So much goodness. Thank you. I get to the airport. “See you soon” and we’re both off in separate directions.

I enter a strange world, everything is shiny, news stands, glossy rails, glass windows, even people’s eyes are glassy… There is an ebullience in the air. Carpet absorbs the thousands of footsteps. Arrivals. Departure. Luggage pick up. taxis… Go, go, go….

Then we do this little dance at the security barricade. The agents will not look at you in the eyes. Probably regulation. People walk barefoot on the cold rock like floor. Guys are putting their belts back on. Ladies rebuild the creation of themselves after this disrespectful partial disrobing.

I feel this nervous energy. It is abuzz. A little old lady in a wheel chair has to get up and walk through the body scanner. Pink jacket, white hair, bent over her cane. Plastic trays cycle through the machine over and over. Boots, bags, laptops, jackets, jewelery. Ah! Water bottle! Crime! “you can’t take water with you” said an officer relieved to find something wrong with someone. A slow motion process in a hyped up, hyperventilated atmosphere.

They could not figure out what the motorcycle gloves were. , they were in my bag. The knuckle protection pieces… I should have left them inside the helmet. A note to remember for return flight… so the bag went through the scanner 3 times and 3 guys came down to analyze, assess the situation.

“We apologize for the delay” the guy says finally.
“no worries” I answered.


cowboy hat on a girl awaits the boarding call to Nashville

Gate 46 B. Starbucks. There is a pretty good line up. The mood swings between boredom and a sort of “it’s too early for this” look. It’s all about surviving. Needs. A few hours in transit. Coffee, water, snacks. Magazines, books, candy, horseshoe shaped neck pillows, blankets, bags, batteries, stuuff & stuff & stuff… all the needs. All offered. All available for the right price.

foggy morning at LAX, my plane

This lady in organic cotton clothes behind me orders :

“Can I get a Grande tai chi…”

the Starbucks associate looks at here with a blank stare.

” Uh, I mean a Chai tea, a grande Chai tea latte.. and yeah I need tai chi right now…” I laugh. No one else seems to have caught this twist of the tongue.

OK. I’ll be an electron again. I’ll glide through this all. Glide to my destination.

I hear over the speaker phone “ Passenger Cantrell for pre-boarding at gate 48 B to Honolulu.” I try to imagine what it would be like if it was Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains…. I look. No. I crane over to see gate 48 B. Not so. Sigh….

Right now I am flying. Heading East, from California to Tennessee. Up in the air, sitting in a fabric covered seat in a Boeing 737. We will cover almost 3000 miles in a few hours. A blur.

On the road I covered 14 000 miles in 3.5 months…. mile after mile. Each second bore an emotion, each inch of that road was felt, lived. Now, up in the sky I am covering distance in an seemingly illegitimate way. I’ll land there and I won’t know what was between there and here. Poof.

Weightless up in the sky now we are. The seatbelt sign is now off. I pull out the laptop. A movie plays on the TV. Silent. I type until the battery runs too low.


See you soon.

Tennessee from way up.


One Response to “Flying into the East”

  1. steveslaughter Says:

    Super Harvest Moon. Beyond a good omen.

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