Year Of The Ram

For the first time in months I am typing up a blog on my tiny smartphone screen. This means this blog will be full of errors while lacking photos. I am ignoring these facts because it is time I post an update. My lack of blogging is a consequence of the abrupt change in adventure.

A week and a half ago, Monday the 9th, I took off on a jet plane, not sure when I’d be back again. I left Little Wing in the same garage I had cleaned up a week before, in Oceanside, California, and I embarked on a thirteen hour stint in and out of airplane terminals until I arrived in Minnesota. Why, you might ask. Well that is a tough question to answer.

My grandpa always told me to be honest and straight forward so I suppose that is what I shall do.

The same grandfather who speaks of honesty is very sick. He is nearing the end with an indeterminate amount of time left here in this world we know. This is very hard for me… but he seems to be coming to peace with it.

This is an unexpected turn of events in this year of adventure. My grandfather is a strong man. His life story was one of the first to fascinate me when Dad would tell me about our heritage. It is incomprehensible to imagine losing one of the humans I care the most about in this world, but now I have to. It is something yet to happen but an impending eventuality that I will soon understand. What does one do now?

I flew to the Northern Midwest a week ago, leaving Little Wing behind. It was an unreal experience. My grandparents live in South Dakota so the day before take off I entered a thrift store with the intent to buy clothing for the first time in months. I was leaving warm Cali and I needed warm clothes for my stint in frozen South Dakota. Shopping as therapy may have been another factor in my trip to the store because, in general, I dislike shopping. The next day I woke up at 6:45 and dressed in new-to-me jeans and a dress shirt. I looked in the mirror and considered the morning before. Waking up about the same time and opening the email from my aunt that contained the news of my grandfather. I thought about the hours of phone calls that lead to the purchase of the plane ticket that would put me on a flight at 8:00 pm Monday evening. Twenty-four hours had barely passed but it felt like a week — like a lifetime. The day was long. It was a day that reached near 80° but I barely noticed. My mind was reeling. I found entertainment in devouring a sad book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I took Little Wing out for a ride. We rode to the house of the mechanic that fixed my foot peg bracket, Rhett. I asked his advice on a few bike issues that were still puzzling me and I settled up for the help he had given me earlier. I rode back to Andrea’s where I gave Little Wing a farewell pat down and once over while pushing him as far into the corner of the garage as I could manage. It was the final farewell to the paused adventure.

Is the adventure paused or is ot over? What does parking the motorcycle mean? That is a question that keeps rolling around in my head. I am unable to answer it.

I didn’t nap at all before the flight. I had purchased the cheapest flight possible from Sab Diego to Minneapolis. This resulted in a lot of time spent sitting in terminals. I got to the San Diego airport at 6:00 pm. After going through security I had an hour and a half to sit in the terminal before the twenty minute flight from San Diego to Las Vegas. I had the window seat on that flight. I enjoyed staring out the always coveted window at the shrinking lights of the city. The planes flight pattern took us away from the lights and over the same ocean I had waded through only a short time prior. I stared out at the airplane’s wings, I thought about my own Little Wing. I felt the turbulence that reminded the passengers of the speed we were moving at. It was reminiscent of the feel of a motorcycle on a rough road. I thought of why I was in the airplane and though the reason felt unreal my eyes stung. The rest of the night would find me too tired and without the ability to fully comprehend the reality of the situation a second time. The three hours in the Las Angles terminal would be dreamlike. The thirty minutes of restless sleep wouldn’t diminish the trance I was in. The two hour flight from Los Angles to the Dallas airport would find me squished in between an older African American woman and a slightly younger, para-professional, woman from Korea. I was able to catch another hour and thirty minutes worth of shuteye before touching down. It was 4:45 am when I stepped foot in Texas. I considered the thought that I had put into getting into that state just a few days before. The checking of the weather forecast in between the bouts of pouring over maps. Being in Texas was a thought that seemed so impossible only two days previously. I picked up some hot tea and I sat down to eat the last of the granola bars I had brought with me. My overly tired and stimulated brain thought about the plans for the rest of the day. I would arrive in Minnesota where I would be picked up by my Aunt Judy. She and I would head to Dad’s where we would tell him what was up. I found a place on the floor to lay my waterproof duffle down, the same one that I use as my backrest on Little Wing. I sat down beside it and pulled out my book (Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, the book I started after I finished Khaled Hosseini’s book) as I finished up the tea. Eventually I started nodding off and I was able to sleep for forty-five minutes in the wee hours of that Texas morning. I woke up to the sound of other flyers filling the seats around me. I would be able to catch fifteen more minutes of rest on the two and a half hour flight to Minneapolis. The plane would touch down a little after 11:00 am.

Flying into Minneapolis involved miles and miles of grey clouds. The plane finally made it out of the thick fog and at that point I was able to look out from my seat between the two older men that sat on either side of me out towards the land of my home state. Though I knew it was February it looked as though it was later in the season. I saw patches of brown and strips of white, something that would be opposite almost any other year. Minnesota’s weird weather this year had melted off the first snows of the season, but the snowstorm from the day before had left a mess on the roads. I could see the plows making their way along the roads as the plane came closer to landing.

I have found that winter in my Northern homeland is not the same as I am used to. It is chilly, that is the same, but the lack of snow around these parts is the strangest thing. The other strangest thing remains the reason why I am here. It feels impossible, but the random stings of moisture that blur my vision keep reality close at hand.

I really miss riding. My last ride on Little Wing was less than an hour long. I have been driving the borrowed farm trucks here in South Dakota and it isn’t the same. I am a better driver now, and the roads aren’t that icy this year, but the drives are still cold. I have been borrowing my grandmothers Sorel snow boits here. They are about three sizes too big but they insure that my feet stay warm. My motorcycle jacket also keeps me warm. I have been wearing my wool hat and cowl but I was without gloves so I had to borrow those when I got here. South Dakota wind is nothing to mess with — honestly, it might be another reason for the random tears. I have spent much of the last few months teasing others about their low tolerance for cold and then I get back to my home land and feel the need to wrap myself up in the linen closet just to stay warm. My slow ride away from the chill and into the heat helped me lose the edge I spent twenty years developing. My sister came down from Alaska. She didn’t have snow boots nor a hat. When I looked at her ungloved hands I would shiver and rush for shelter.

It was good seeing my sister. I love her. I missed her. The last time I had saw her in person was three years ago. I dropped her off at the airport in my old Ford Ranger. I had only got my license a few months before and it was my first time driving in a city. I took her to the Minneapolis airport where we managed to get hopelessly lost. By the time we got to the airport my sister was in tears. I was trying to keep my cool all the while my sister swore at me. I parked in one of the airports parking garage. She told me that was wrong. She told me we weren’t supposed to park there and that I was going to be the reason she missed her flight to Alaska. After listening to her cuss me out for the last half hour I wasn’t ready to be intimidated so I got out of the truck and told her she could either follow me or stay in the truck as I grabbed her luggage out of the bed and hustled my way to the airport transit system. She got out of the truck, tears streaming down her face, panic in her voice and continued to swear at me. She was dressed up all pretty in her high heels so no matter how much she tryed to catch up with me to stop me she couldn’t. We got the strangest looks from other commuters. This beautiful sobbing girl yelling at this shlumpy looking chick who was clearly being chased. I’m suprised security wasn’t called. It would turn out I was right about us being at the correct place for the airport. Despite this, my stubborn, crying, sister was not ready to admit this and after we arrived at security and she stopped to give me a hug I told her “I told you so.” She didn’t like that.

So the last time I saw my sister she was flouncing off, looking back at me, and saying “f**k you, Diamond!” Well, that was until a few days ago. I rode down with my grandma to pick my lovely sister up from the airport and I swear my heart grew again just seeng her in real life, watching her disembark off the escalator.

Life is full of these odd emotions. How is it possible to have utter joy and sorrow at the same time? Is that the human condition? How is that possible.

I also have enjoyed seeing Dad. I know him well though, I see him often. We hang out all the time when I’m not on adventure. After getting to Minneapolis and then heading North to see him we then took off to South Dakota. It was a beautiful ride from there to here. The sun was shining on the frosted trees making for a world of glitter all around. I sat with my knee close to the door as we drove through the sparkly scene. The wind seeped into the vehicle causing my leg to grow gradually colder. I found comfort in the beauty outside. We saw a sundog and I chose to take that as a sign of good fortune.

My sister called this evening. She called to say Happy Chinese new year. It is the year of the goat/ ram/ sheep this yesr. I am staying on my grandmas sheep farm so I am choosing to take that as a good omen too. Good omens, what are they good for? I guess making peace with life and death and all that.

It is the year of the ram.