It’s been a really fun week of storytelling, reunions, and celebrations of my 2-year wedding anniversary with Scott! Thursday was the Antisocial launch of Letters to the Editors, so a bit more relaxed for me since I wasn’t representing the library, and really great to see Anna Szaflarski after all these years. But Wednesday night at the Carnegie was also pretty special.
Melly organized five official motorcycle storytellers (myself and Melly included), starting with Motorcycho Norman (a funny story involving mini bikes and a blond wig!), and featuring two additional women who had some impressive international travels between them. I had hoped that a few particular Carnegie patrons / motorcycle enthusiasts would be there, but the lives of people in the DTES are unpredictable, so no hard feelings. And yet, there were two individuals from the audience who did contribute some words of wisdom and recollection, and three guys shared their story in secret with me, since they were hesitant to stand up in public.
I don’t know Vaughan’s full story, but he joyously explains to anyone who will listen that he has been in 7 motorcycle accidents, all of which were his fault, and resulted in the loss of part of his leg! He shared some of his story, then launched into the chorus of a song he wrote about those accidents… It was magic! He really stole the show and seemed delighted by the applause. That moment alone made the whole evening worth it!
Melly alluded to the idea that the “One time I rode…” motorcycle storytelling series would continue, possibly with one in a garage, and another evening exclusively for female storytellers. So far, I’ve shared about the origins of the Majestic Unicorn Motorcycle Club, and then the other night about my humble motorcycle fails and mechanical experiments (ie. the time I seized my engine, and swapped in another even sketchier engine on my Honda Hawk!). I like to entertain and those two are probably my funniest stories. What next?
And then it occurred to me… If it’s in the safety of a female-only audience perhaps I could develop a story around my dating experiences that led to motorcycles, and the comedy romances that preceded my ruling husband! Hindsight is the best! All of my mini relationships totally destroyed me in the moment, but I know that I needed to endure them to bring me to the place where I am now.
I should note that the names have been changed and that my intention isn’t to turn this into a “woe is me” story or an opportunity to rant and rave. I played my part in choosing to pursue these individuals, ignoring red flags, and imposing my own hopes and dreams on the situations. I can’t even look at my old diaries because I just wallow in self-pity, then flip to fantastical day dreams, over to anger when reality won’t compete with my delusions, and repeat. Regardless, let us begin…
In the summer of 2006 I was still heavily immersed in skateboarding. My requirements for a relationship were fairly basic… dude must be a skateboarder, must be semi-intelligent and literate, must have a certain look or appreciate a certain brand, blah blah. So, I was pseudo-dating a guy, we’ll call him Igor who possessed some of these “qualities” but had some serious struggles with alcohol. There were many days of just waiting for him to surface from a boozy haze, to then consume more alcohol and get the energy to enjoy the day. There were fun times, but pretty messy overall. Igor also had ties to a very destructive ex-girlfriend, and I won’t go into those details.
It ended. I tried to resuscitate things and would just become more hurt and frustrated with myself for not letting go. But I did move on, and the best part was that I was so sick of how life was unfolding that I was game to to immerse myself into something positive and joyful like motorcycles, and take lots of risks!
I hadn’t fully told my parents about my passion for motorcycles until I found the perfect pitch. I had bumped into Igor on the street months later who proceeded to tell me all about his new girlfriend, how he bought a car, and how they were going on all these great camping trips. While this conversation had the potential to crush me, I simply retaliated… well, I have a motorcycle, and I’m fully licensed and go on sick motorcycle skateboarding trips with my all-girls Motorcycle Club. Boom!! In your face.
I called my mom and described the encounter, and she was all, “That’s right! My daughter rides a motorcycle and she doesn’t need your car and your crap!” Or, something to that effect. Essentially, she was just really stoked and approving of my response.
Through motorcycles I met loads of new people, and my social circle expanded. I think my new dating standards didn’t necessarily include “skateboarder” anymore, but other silly requirements emerged, like must have a vintage motorbike, dress in a certain style, able to party with my new cool crew. Fortunately, I was going through an upheaval in my personal life, and due to a variety of traumas and struggles, I started going to church regularly and training for my first marathon.
My faith life was still very immature and emotional, but I was grateful for the wise women I met who mentored me. It must have been exasperating at times for them to witness me being torn between my old path and new path. For example, after some months, during a particularly lonely time in my life I went to church and there, parked out front was the sickest vintage Triumph motorcycle! This is exactly what I had hoped for and daydreamed would happen.
I lurked outside after church and caught sight of the owner… he was very suave and polished, and I decided that he was God’s gift to me! I am not kidding you. I actually thought that because I had gone through such garbage in the past that, before I even had a conversation with the guy, I was being “rewarded” for pursuing Christianity through this young man.
But, it doesn’t quite work like that. Yes, everything good in my life is a gift, but God does not owe me anything (actually it’s the opposite), and I don’t get to decide when and who will be my knight in shining armor, if anyone at all. Needless to say, I start riding my motorcycle to church even though I lived only a few blocks away, trying and hoping to force the encounter. I am so lame.
The encounter presents itself. I meet “Dorian.” I am charming, he is charming, we go on a few dates, and it is romantic, but ends up being a total disaster and I get destroyed again! It turns out that more often than not, when people go to church they are trying to change things, to become a better person, which means that the church is literally a den of sinners struggling with the push and pull of their past behaviours and destructive patterns (myself included). Sometimes great progress is made, but that takes persistence and time.
Well, this young man was re-bounding hard from a brutal relationship, and I was simply one of many. Even with “cool” motorcycles bonding us together, and parallels in our lives like seeking out church, we were not compatible. Perhaps this is partially why I have a negative association with Disasterdaze because Dorian met me there one year, and one minute was introducing me to his parents on the Sunshine coast, and the next minute was a drunken mess blatantly flirting with some coked-out bimbo. I saw his true colours, and the worst was that I had made the mistake of ditching my friends to follow him around with only the full moon and my motorcycle to comfort me. Arooooo!
I was so confused! Everything could have been perfect – it could have been this magical story we shared at our wedding! But alas, I had so much to learn about being content with singleness, and I needed to grow stronger in my sense of self and in my relationship with God. I was living a double life and I felt like a fool.
I could go on about various pathetic crushes, highs and lows, but essentially I had to strip away my sense of entitlement, ego, and identity before I was remotely in a position of love and peace to date anyone. It was a painful and wonderful transformation, and I even wrote a strange little book about it called Status Single: a journey to contentment and joy. The funny part was that by the conclusion of the book I thought I was done with dating, and accepted that “fact” completely. A year later my boyfriend is designing the book cover!!
I’m in a relationship that I could never have predicted or imagined or schemed or planned. Instead of going for someone who had the “right” hobbies, pursuits, friends that were 100% the same as my own, I went for someone who displayed compassion, kindness, integrity, intelligence, joy, wisdom and love. It sounds so obvious, but it was so difficult to get here! I’m just grateful it all happened, because I do not remotely deserve such an attentive, loving husband. It was also incredibly easy once we met. Everything just flowed together like a dream, but better than a dream.
And it’s about being a gift to each other, allowing each other to be completely ourselves without any expectation to fit into the other person’s vision of the ideal partner. Strangely enough, Scott actually had a genuine interest in pursuing motorcycles and is now ruling on his Honda XR650, fully licensed and passionate about motorcycle maintenance and adventures. And strangely enough, I’ve actually gone to some metal concerts and had a pretty good time (although I will never be an actual “metal head” haha!), and taken up bicycle camping as a result.
I guess the moral of my story is to let go of the superficial elements that one hides behind, those fabricated identities that give yourself a false sense of worth, entitlement and confidence, because they can actually do more damage than good, especially if you are seeking a relationship of truth and substance.
I’m not suggesting don’t have any fun and that it’s wrong to pursue cool activities, just be mindful of who your true self is, and what makes you feel loved and builds you up, and how to offer love and encouragement in a healthy way to those around you. It’s not that those other guys were “bad” – they had their own redeeming qualities, but neither they nor I were in a place to be successful in a relationship at those times.
At this point I am mindful that I’ve been offering advice, and I am actually not comfortable with that role. So please don’t take any of this without questioning it, and finding your own way. There’s been several occasions when I’ve been pushed into the role of mentor and failed miserably. I might be trained as a librarian to listen, smile and be approachable, but as a confidant I’m not so great and can feel impatient and resentful below the surface. I’m happy to share stories from my own experience, but my hermit tendencies often dominate.
In conclusion, I’m still grateful that I pursued skateboarding and motorcycling, even if I found myself in hurtful situations, but I’m even more grateful that I’m on a path that continues to mellow me out, humble me, and fill me up so that I’m better able to have patience and empathy for others, which takes strength and energy for an introvert.