When Kitty cracked open our second two Tecates an idea hit me. I interrupted Oremek's telling of his San Diego vacation plans, and I said, "What you need to do is call John and take him up on the offer he's been making for what – three years now? You can fly to El Paso, I'll meet ya there and then we ride to San Diego."
I saw the thought hit him like a drug. "I should, shouldn't I?" O got wild-eyed.
When Oremek got his first bike, a chopper loud as a freight train, his next-door neighbor John did something quite unexpected – he liked it. Other neighbors threatened to call the police, and I think one was sticking pins in an Oremek Voodoo doll, but John stopped over and conversed with O while he tinkered on the bike. Their friendly neighbor relationship forged into the well-known brotherhood of motorcyclists.
John told hard-to-imagine stories of riding through the late seventies and eighties. When he looked at the ground and grew quiet, his eyes said there were other stories untold... from then and now. "If you're ever out in New Mexico, I got a bike you can use. You can ride it to California if you want," John would say.
Heeding his doctor's advice, John recently moved permanently to that other home in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico where the native spirits who enchant the land can fix him or claim him back to them gracefully, away from the wasteland Norfolk.
We let loose our imaginations and lubed our visions with Tecate. Seeing O looking over at his phone, within reach but face-down, I thought we must be thinking of the same things: of two-lane roads undulating through the desert with not another human soul in sight. In my mind, what once was black-top was now a sun-cured silver ribbon running straight out under us, through a handful of mirage lakes, disappearing over each rolling hill, then reappearing more distant on the upside of the next till finally it ended over the earth's bend seven miles away. Live rattlesnakes and dead armadillo crept into my head for a second until I scolded myself for having watched too much TV...and having not really lived enough... yet.
There was going to be so much more to this ride than I could imagine.
O took the phone outside, Kitty came to check on me, said something smart, and I was just dumb. She's too hot. Returning a few minutes later, O's gait was different, less strut than the proud Mexican bantam I know. Something was amiss. His far-away eyes - stuck like headlights straight ahead, focused on nothing here, nothing in the actual physically realm - told me his mind was elsewhere. He reminded me of someone very aware that s/he is disoriented and therefore making careful, controlled slow motion movements to stay that way and enjoy it. He sat, and though he was trying to keep his cool, I know him well. The corners of his mouth gave him away first and then his little crow's feet around his eyes followed.
"I got it. John said 'Yeah', I could take the bike." O paused, looked at me in disbelief and said it again, "He said, 'Come on.'"
"I know!" O laughed, "This is going to be epic."
My tentative plan, which up to this point had been little more than a sketch, to hopscotch clockwise around the country for the entire summer, in a matter of minutes was taking shape and it was more than I could process. I'd done little two and three thousand mile rides for the past few Spring Breaks and summers to Montreal and Dallas and Nova Scotia, but my newest bike was the one people ride around the world...literally. Neither of us, I could tell, could really fathom that this guy was going to let Oremek borrow his motorcycle to go from New Mexico to San Diego and back. If he was for real, this was going to be a blast.
End of Chapter One
I left July 18, ... See Chapter Two - X-USA Moto Trip - The first few days.