I can’t take it anymore. This sitting still is doing me in. I need gasoline therapy.
I suppose if I owned a vehicle powered by diesel fuel, that would do as well. Diesels can be good because you can get more range from them. Range is essential for what I need. It’s an essential part of gasoline therapy.
I bought my first motorcycle shortly after I turned 33. It was also my first extra-marital affair. Wife-at-the-time hated bikes — just hated them. So I promised her I’d only ride my dinky little 500cc Honda around the neighborhood or to the store to get bagels. Sometimes I’d have to ride 100 miles away to get just the right kind of bagel. Because I cared.
But yes — whenever her back was turned, I was sneaking in some time with my prematurely-haggard little Japanese consort, redlining her up a hill on the way to Payson along the Beeline Highway, riding through the moonlight on the way to Globe along US60, doing laps up and down Yarnell Hill and scaring myself shitless.
When I came home one afternoon, wife-at-the-time was in the kitchen and waiting for me. She took one look in my eyes and knew she had lost. Her rival had my affections. That harlot had plied me by burning gasoline–which had never really ceased being my drug of choice. I promised my wife I’d spend more time with her when she wasn’t . . . ohhhh . . . galavanting through the Caribbean with “friends” on “business trips.”
But you know what they say about such things: Slippery-slope and all that. Within a year I had two more bikes, each with longer range than the previous one. I finally bought a Honda ST1100, which carried enough gas to allow me to take in hours of therapy at a time. I was gone — and soon, so was wife.
No big. More time to ride this way.
I used to figure on how many tanks it would take to get me up on a high. I thought in terms of tanks. Usually, after two and a half tanks in that ST1100, I was cookin’. From Phoenix, that would put me somewhere near Reno or Grand Junction, or in some godforsaken part of Utah. Once up on that high, I would sometimes find I just couldn’t stop. I rode to Canada once, just to smoke a cigarette. The Mounties didn’t understand why someone would ride 1500 miles to smoke a cigarette and take a picture near a sign that said “Bienvenue au Canada.” The US Border Patrol on the way back didn’t understand, either. Philistines.
But then life happened. Another marriage happened. A kid happened. Another divorce happened. I came down off my high and started writing instead. Writing is good, but it’s not the same. There are many wanderers who also write, and many works of literature based on wandering. Some of these writer-wanderers eventually settle down, but the wanderlust stays. John Steinbeck took one last journey around the country and used the experience to write what is probably his best book. Then, he died. It was sad, but also a good closure to the career of a man who had helped mythologize the Main Street of America.
So now, I can go a few weeks standing at the bistro table in my condo, socializing at my bar, taking long walks around my ‘hood and bike rides a little further away. Then, I need range. I need gasoline therapy.
I need that feeling of being an arrow launched by a longbow at the peak of its flight on the way towards an indeterminate target. I need to feel the world wrapping itself around me like a carrousel, with me at its axis. I need to take my place in the intoxicating, whirling dance of being, denying death by means of pure, frenetic motion.
I need gasoline therapy.
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