Well, I went to the Harley-Davidson "Garage Party", and it was definitely geared toward chicks. There wasn't a male in sight...all the staff were ladies. There was lots of food, red and white wine and coffee and cheesecake for dessert. (Do these people know their market or what??) All that was missing was chocolate. We tried on helmets, jackets, boots. We sat on Dyna's and "fat boys" and Sportsters. We talked about men, kids, bikes, work and why we wanted to do this crazy thing that we were all there talking about. And we left with a "goodie bag" full of really cool stuff. I had way more fun than I've had in a while.
I'm not sure where this is all going to go. I feel like I'm watching it happen in a way. I do know three things, and beyond that, I can't think too much. So this is what I know for sure:
1. I'm getting my permit.
2. I'm taking a rider class.
3. I'm getting my license.
I've never been a person who has wanted a "planned life". Sometimes I think about that, and don't know if it was a good thing, or not. I grew up pretty smack in the middle class. I saw that my father worked in a job that he really didn't like all that much, and that my mother didn't work. So she worked on us. I was fortunate that my parents pushed education for all three of us, but it was always geared toward what they felt was a "good job". Not that there's anything wrong with a good job, but I was born during a time when I watched the fall of almost every major institution there was. I saw Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew shock the hell out of the American public with the realization that, "Yes Virginia, the government does lie to you." I saw the nightly news flashes of the growing body counts of the Vietnam War. I can still see the picture of the silhouette of a soldier with all the tiny soldiers inside, getting higher and higher as the body counts rose. One of my earliest memories (and this is really scary because I was not even 2 years old when this occurred) was of my mother running into the room sobbing and saying, "They just shot the President." She was referring to John Kennedy, of course, but I didn't realize that for a number of years. That memory is just burned in my brain, seeing my mother running into the room and sobbing like that. I saw the civil rights riots on TV, with film footage of blacks being hosed down with water cannons, and people being dragged and clubbed by cops in riot gear. I saw the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan and grew up with the anthem of Rock And Roll. I remember my father waking all of us up at some ungodly hour (it was still dark outside) to watch them "land on the Moon". I attended "religion classes" after school during the post Vatican II years when everything in "The Church" was changing; they stopped saying the Mass in Latin, and then all the Altar railing were removed. I remember seeing women on TV taking "The Pill" and burning their bra's, marching with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. I remember cigarette commercials getting banned from television - and I still recall some of the jingles. I saw Hippies protesting war, promoting free love and smoking pot in the parks; the hero's: Timothy Leary, Allan Ginsburg, Ram Dass and Abbie Hoffman. The funny thing, I'm still watching institutions fall. And I'm still seeing barriers break down.
My early formative years just basically gave me one message - nothing that appears to be an institution, really is. Anything can change. I've never felt that anything was really permanent, only that it pretended to be. I didn't purchase a vacuum cleaner until my 3rd apartment (it was too big not to) and then I cried, because I felt like I had sold out in some way.
In 1989 I got married to a guy that was OK, but really just a boyfriend and not much more. I got married because I was sick of being bugged about not being married. In an Italian family once you're past 24 you're considered an old maid, and the Aunts are mobilized to "find you a husband". It got to the point where it was a depressing conversation on a grinding never-ending loop. "When are you gonna get marriedhavechildrenbuyahousesettledown???" So, I asked Mark if he wanted to get married, and he wasn't busy at the time, so...
I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine about three months before this "blessed event" was to take place. He said to me, "You don't really want to do this, do you?" and I said, "The invitations are sent, it doesn't really matter what I want to do, and Mark will make a great first husband."
It was truly an all out kick ass party. Italians and ridiculous amounts of food, German-Polish and ridiculous amounts of booze, Nukie's rockin' powder blue convertible (Delta 88??) to pose on and enough pictures to make even grandma happy. A good time was had by all. There was even the obligatory family Mafia members to round out the guest list. Three month later I was tossing his clothes off the porch of the 2nd story apartment. "Mission accomplished....can I live my life now??" I have to say, my family didn't bug me about getting married after that.
Part II of this tale
The best times I've ever had (ever) were travelling on the road, going to Grateful Dead shows. The guy I was going out with was a crazy old hippie "taper" and he would go on the road to "tape" all these different Grateful Dead shows. We would work our "day jobs" here at home, and then save up our "time off" and money for planned road trips to the East Coast shows. We'd take off about 2 or 3 weeks at a time and see 10 shows in 3 or 4 states. Come back home and plan the next set of shows. It was one of the freest times I had ever had up to that point in my whole life.
I felt like I had the freedom to be whatever I wanted - who ever I wanted...without all the voices around me, so willing to tell me who I was and who I wasn't.
When Jerry Garcia died, I felt like something inside of me died. I cried so goddamn hard. I cried for a week. I cried because I knew I would never feel that free again.
The routine starkness of the "real world" was too much for the "taper" hippie guy. We broke up and I started dating one of that circle of people. A guy who was fun, and different, wounded and thought provoking. He was a great, great boyfriend - but NOT someone to marry or have kids with. He had his limitations, and in his own context he was OK. He just wasn't OK outside of that - in fact, he basically didn't function. When I found out I was pregnant - I ignored it. I think I was hoping it would go away. I don't know that I had really thought about an abortion, I didn't really want an abortion, but I didn't want a baby either. So, I was ignoring it, hoping it would go away. When I was (I'm guessing here) about 3 months pregnant I had a dream. In the dream I was walking down the hallway of a castle, everything was stone; stone walls, stone floors, stone archways. I turned into a room with an arched stone window and a stone table with a basket on top. In the basket was a baby girl wrapped in a blanket. I knew it was "the baby" and I said to her, "Oh, you are so beautiful! But why are you coming to me? There are so many women who want to have babies and I'm not even trying. Why don't you go to one of them?" but the baby said, "No, I picked you for my mother." so then I said, "Well, I'm not ready yet, why don't you come back in a couple of years and then I'll be ready for you." but the baby said, "No, I'm hear NOW." and then the baby said, "You'll be fine." Well, I woke up like my head had been held under water. I woke up scared shitless. Needless to say...
Anyway, we tried to "play house" but he got mad and took his toys home. He got the Grateful Dead tapes, I got the cat...oh, yeah...and the kids. A robbery (oh, that's right it's technically a "Burglary") helped me and the kids out of that house and into a condo apartment so fucking far away that I felt I was in exile. Every time the alarm went off in the morning my first thought was, "Oh shit! I'm still alive!". It wasn't too good. In fact, it was really bad. I think I was a zombie for a couple of years. Going through the motions of what everyone expected: being a Good Mother, being a Good Employee, Being a Tax Paying Citizen, once in a while Go To Court. Up, wash, dress, eat, kids here, me there, pick up kids, eat, pay a bill, wash, cry, go to bed. Over and over...all the time just numb...really not feeling or caring about a whole hell of a lot.
Picking up the pieces was really slow. After I had the girls I felt like a snowglobe that someone picked up and shook the hell out of, and set it back down. I was so overwhelmed, and went into "survival mode". I lost everything that was "me", because there wasn't room (or so I thought) for "them" and "me". And they needed me, more than I needed me (or so I thought).
I'm not sure what really started things changing. When I think back, I have to say it was a conversation that I had with a really scary looking african-american (is that PC enough??) "psychic" that a friend of mine knew. I called her on the phone to make an appointment with her. She hadn't even met me yet, and as we were talking about when to meet she says out of the blue, "Why aren't you in school?" and I was just dumbfounded, because I HAD been thinking about going back to school but hadn't said anything to anyone. So I sputtered and stuttered, and she said, "Enroll yourself in school. You need to go back to school, and you know you've been wanting to do that." So I did. The day I signed up, it was like someone breathing new life into me.
That Fall, the little one boarded the bus, and I went back to college. And the ice started to crack a little.
The first semester was a near disaster, but I made it through, and made it through the next one, too. This past Fall, I thought, "I've always wanted to weight train." and when the kids boarded the September bus, I walked into the gym where I am now and started training three days a week. The depression weight started coming off, and I could see "Grandma's arms" disappearing. I grunted, sweated and gritted along. I wasn't just transforming muscle, I was transforming myself.
So a few months ago I started thinking, "Oh yeah! I've always wanted to ride a motorcycle."
Maybe Spring really does come after the long Winter? I don't know. All I know is, I'm getting too big for this box...
Out of the Box Hammy
P.S. Mark and I still laugh about what an all out kick ass party that wedding was.