Tag: Vespa

Ballad of the Long Straight Road

I know why people take to the open road.  I know why they grab their keys, their manhood, and schisms to bolt through congested traffic until they hit the long stretch where the cars thin out and the road turns quiet like butter under the wheels.  They do it to create a buffer between themselves and everything static.  They do it to think in the moment where everything is raw but moving with the landscape.

I do it because it’s like flying.  Every summer I take the Vespa out to Bernards Farm.  I pack up  a collection of nasty bags and boxes and anything I can load produce into and it almost doesn’t matter what it is I’m going to pick – I’d go out there to pick the chamomile dotting the tomato fields if there were no tomatoes left just to go.  Just to break loose, to race down Old Sheridan Road with insects hitting me like tiny rockets, the drifts of changing scents; warm wild dusky charlatan blackberries grown over-ripe in the heat of August, hot dry sage browning in the fringe of the scythed fields reminding me of origin – a fine cross between the sweat of summer and the antiseptic that cleans it before fall, barnyard where the cattle come to watch me speeding by, interrupting their milky sweet ruminations.

I am the insect bomb in their quiet and it makes me want to laugh into the wind that sucks up my voice and gives loft to my spirit instead.  I cut the cricket calls in half as I pick up speed on the straight and narrow flat stretches between ripe apples on the air and the pervasive scent of empty hay-fields still reaching for lost seed.  Cut down, they glow sharply all around me, acres of rough gold fringed with the wild grasses of no interest to anyone but me who salutes them with my unpeeled elation.  They respond with prehistoric whispers that just barely brush my wheels.  Slowing down to turn down onto Oldsville road where a body was found in an old oil drum, I smell the rich manure, and it’s as it should be.  As it always is.  Every summer.  Continuity in flight creates a safe canvass for color.

Passing an old apple tree grown rusticated with neglect I can smell the small dropped smashed fruit fermenting in the hot air before I actually see them scattered into the road under my wheels and as I pass the tree I hear it calling out, making wishes on the loose straw carried on my back draft and mourning so much more than I am.  I toss a handful of my own wishes behind me hoping the tree knows what’s in my heart even if it can’t follow.

I could shout now.  I could shout here.  I want to yell into the wind.  Instead I prepare my mind for meditation.  I do this by doing nothing at all.  Nothing.  When I reach Highway 18 I have to stop, shake out my right hand to dispel the numbness which insidiously takes over whenever it is least convenient.  I pull my helmet buckle on tighter because I’m about to go even faster and everything must be battened down for speed.  It’s only a quarter of a mile to the farm from here.  Nothing much.  But the Vespa has a lot to prove among the arrogant vehicles already thrumming with noisy hunger down the highway, eating miles like candy.  It is my secret joy that the Vespa goes as fast as they are allowed to, it pulls out and in seconds it is pulling at the road like a racehorse.

It exhilarates me.  I like speed.  I like the road.  I – who am terrified of cars and could not ride in them at all today if I wasn’t medicated – I love the feel of the asphalt reeling out behind me.  It makes little sense and I don’t bother trying to sort it out because I don’t have time to dig for inconsequential answers like that when there’s this great ride to enjoy.

When I’m on that stretch of highway all thought disappear.  I am aware only of the cars behind me, ahead of me, and to the side of me.  I perceive nothing beyond the impact of back drafts and speed and distance.  My mind completely empties of anything extraneous.  It’s a gorgeous meditation.  All my focus is on the pressing and urgent need to know exactly where I am in the universe right now.  There is no other point in my life that will be this simple.  This is how death is when you strip it of all the things you think you’re supposed to feel and do.  This is how being born is when you strip it of the weight of being, and of the expectations that await you as a human being.  You can’t get simplicity like this with a candle or a mantra or a bottle of beer or a self help book or a life coach or even an epiphany.

It’s so simple there’s nothing outside of it.

It’s so simple.  You’re either alive, or you’re dead.

Sometimes it takes the open road to notice.

There is no choice to make.

You either are, or you aren’t.

Today I’m alive.


My Vespa, Bacon, Ghetto talk, and Tea

A Little Scooter Education:

Every fall, winter, and spring I get constant questions from people about riding my Vespa in the rain.  Half question/half statements that goes something (exactly) like this “That looks like a fun vehicle.” I say that it is, while choking back the urge to point out that it isn’t a toy or a “recreational” vehicle.  “But you can’t ride for much of the year around here, can you?” this is often said in the parking lot of the places I run my errands during the fall, winter, and spring during downpours which makes me think a lot of people are naturally obtuse.  Do they think I got my Vespa dropped off in the parking lot by a truck so I could sit around answering stupid questions and trying to find evasive ways of answering the question about how much one of these (toys) cost because every time I tell anyone what it costs they are shocked that it costs as much as a real vehicle…

My Vespa is not a toy.  New it cost me about the same price as an average condition 10 to 15 year old used car.  I think I got the bargain.  What I find most irritating is when people whistle at the huge price tag while the vehicle they’re standing next to is a brand new mega-amped high-rise testicle truck that costs four times as much as my Vespa did, wastes a shitload of gasoline, and is mostly used to run the same errands I run on my tiny little Vespa.

It just makes me want to say “GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND DO SOME MATH YOU FUCKWIT.”

Which I never do because I’m a lot more polite in real life than you’d ever guess from the way I talk on this blog.

This diminutive vehicle of mine can go up to 65 miles an hour before it starts complaining (it’s supposed to be able to do 80 mph), I can pack a couple hundred pounds of produce from farms on it, I can bring trees home from the nursery on it, I can carry a person on it (if properly helmeted and has long enough legs to reach the running board), I fill up the gallon once a week for between $5 and $6 dollars, and I can carry home a week’s worth of groceries on it.

I don’t drive a car.*  I ride my scooter all four seasons of the year.  I get really wet.  Often.  I’m personally not afraid of rain or being wet.  I get cold sometimes, so I wear warm gloves and my favorite handmade wool scooter scarf (made extra long by Emma so I could wrap it around many times).  Usually, when the scooter is out of commission I am on my bicycle, also getting cold and wet.  I am in a car maybe once or twice a week.  Sometimes not at all.

The only time I don’t ride my scooter is when it’s really windy (dangerous on such a small scooter) or icy/snowy.

Also- my Vespa is NOT a moped.  There are no pedals on it anywhere.  A moped is basically a motorized bicycle.  Generally their engines are not bigger than 49cc.  Plus they have PEDALS.  If my engine fails on me then the vehicle doesn’t function because there aren’t any pedals to switch to.  People are constantly referring to my scooter as a moped.  Even the local policemen were confused about the difference  between a vehicle with pedals and one that doesn’t have any.  They found it very hard to accept that I could be riding something that is neither a moped nor a motorcycle.

Right.  It’s called a scooter.

I’ve been meaning to get that off my chest for a long time.

I really need to mention some trends I find tedious, but first I want to say that I loathe the word “jolly”.  You don’t need to worry about it and if it makes any of you joyful to use it, don’t let my feelings about it hinder you.  It sets my teeth on edge and hurts my brain like a mini-electrical shock.  If you want to do me great harm, use the following words in a single paragraph and then recite it to me over and over:

jolly, golly, nom nom nom, nomminess (just discovered this horror this weekend), hubby, hubster, hubs, moist, mouth-feel, and a little precious thrown in.

Trends I find tedious:

  • Bacon. It never ends.  It has become so sick that there is nothing cooks won’t put bacon in.  This is like America’s dirty secret, that our people would eat bacon with every spoonful if they could and once it became a trend to openly love bacon people have been beating this sick horse to death.  Bacon icecream, bacon brittle, bacon cereal, bacon doughnuts, bacon soup, bacon potatoes, bacon cheese, bacon lipgloss (just cook and smear the juicy fat!), bacon salad, and bacon wrapped bacon.  What scares me is that all the people who love bacon this much are probably praying for edible bacon underwear.  I’m tired of it.  I would like everyone to return to regular food that includes only a modest amount of bacon eating.

I’m not just saying that because I feel bad for all the pigs.  Which I do, by the way, because I’ve heard they’re pretty intelligent and I suspect they might be smarter than a lot of the people I live around who eat them.  Which would be proof that you sadly don’t become what you eat.

But then, I feel bad for all the animals on multiple levels of human abusive use.  I don’t feel bad for animals that are carefully hunted and completely consumed by the people hunting them.

In case anyone was wondering.

  • I am also tired of the “I love me some…” trend. I understand it’s a fun casual slightly ghetto way of talking that brings joy to many completely unghetto white people but I’m tired of it.  “I love me some bacon.”  “I love me some huge families.”  “I love me some poverty.”  It sounds uneducated.  It sounds inauthentic.  It sounds like an affectation similar to a feigned consumptive cough produced by an obviously robust person.    I love slang, I love colloquialisms, so I’m not suggesting people don’t have fun playing with language, it’s just that I’m so fatigued by this one, it’s ubiquitous.   I’d love it if everyone could move on to a new improper uneducated way of expressing enthusiasm for things.

I promise that I’ll work on refreshing my own use of colloquialisms too.  I need to read a Georgette Heyer book and write down some of her classics.  19th century ghetto is much more interesting and fresh at this point than 21st century ghetto.

I will endeavor to replace the rampant use of “awesome” in my daily vocabulary.

I had more tired trends to report but my Monday is rapidly devolving into a tortured metaphor for the quality that makes a winter squash appropriate for pie: density of flesh.

I think tea is required.

*Yes, Philip does drive a car and yes I  benefit from him driving the car as my scooter can’t carry us all to Portland, and sometimes when it’s really icy or windy out I need to be driven places.