Thinking back …

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YESTERDAY MORNING, after hard work in the yard, I was sitting at the dining room table after second breakfast, cereal. My child bride had returned to her pastry workshop, so I was alone, gazing out the window toward the distant Alamo Wall.

With elbows on the table, I placed my face into my hands, closed my eyes and thought. What a high pile of memories.

Three-quarters of a century of breathing combined with an adventuresome, sometimes reckless personality lead to all kinds of crap, most still alive in the cranium.

Three wives, two countries plus a Caribbean island, two languages, planes, parachutes, motorcycles, hot-air balloons, mind-altering materials, a number of jobs but only one of any duration. I did stick with that, which was good, and why I’m here right now.

Dancing in clover.

I wonder about people who live in a more linear fashion. Finish school, a real profession, marriage, have kids, grandkids, buy a home and stay put for decades. Take vacations every year to places like Paris, then head home again.

Yes, I know far fewer folks live like that these days, but many still do.

I ponder if I would have preferred that. Some moments of my life have been pure terror. Try two divorces for starters. Once I had a small plane spin out of control, but it got leveled off. Once I flew into a cloud bank with no training on how to deal with that. And once I overflew a rural runway and ended up in the weeds.

Drive a motorcycle drunk? Count the times. Other stuff so absurd I’m not even going to share. Yet, there I sat at the table, full of cereal, low-fat milk and chia seeds while my child bride was baking brownies, and the sun was shining in a cool, blue sky.

18 thoughts on “Thinking back …

  1. Señor Felipe, many of us, I think, live our lives in less than linear fashion. I’m certain that I have, and it continues even now. Bought another motorcycle after being off them for 15 years this past fall. Been thinking about driving down to see you. Really not that far from West Texas. Right after I bought the motorcycle, I had the aortic heart valve replaced (TVAR). Glad I did both. Thinking about a bun-burner ride when the weather warms up (1,500 miles in 36 hours) on the scooter.

    See what I mean. We don’t change much except by the limitations we impose on ourselves.

    Memories do pile up. At least we can still recognize them.


    1. Ricardo: I’ve made fairly long bike rides when I was younger. Never one so long. I cringe to think of doing it now. It just ain’t comfortable, to state it mildly. I recommend a nice, comfy, air-conditioned car.


  2. It is interesting to think back and sometimes it’s tiring. Were you flying the plane that skidded off the runway? I gave up motorcycling after wiping out trying to negotiate a trail leading up to our home. I was tipping over and should’ve bailed out rather than try to save the bike. Cars are so much safer with seatbelts, airbags and a metal protective shell. We were coming back from two weeks of geological prospecting up north when the driver lost control on the gravel. We rolled 5-6 times before coming to a halt in the middle of the road. I had been sleeping in the back seat with no seatbelt. Luckily, no major injuries. Just a few stitches on my chin from when I flew forward and hit the dashboard. That certainly could’ve been the end of me. I’m glad it wasn’t!


    1. Brent: I’m glad it wasn’t the end of you too. I wouldn’t have received that nice photo with the MAGA cap.

      Yes, I was piloting the plane when it ran off the runway. It didn’t skid off. It just overran the runway because I came in too fast to a short runway on a blustery day. A small plane, not a 747.


  3. Had you taken the linear path, you wouldn’t be the guy that you are today. You might’ve even become a Democrat, God forbid. Your only trips outside Smallville would be the fully escorted kind, the kind where attendants hold your passport and you don’t have to touch money, the difference between tour guides and white-coated custodial caregivers almost indistinguishable. Well, the tour guides don’t wear white coats very often.


    1. Ms. Shoes: But I was a Democrat until 2008. Weepy Barry Obama made me see the light. Glory Hallelujah! The only reason I’m a Republican now is that it’s the only viable way not to be a Democrat. We need more options.


  4. I rode the Honda Rc166 in F.I.M sanctioned races in 1966 and 1967. A broken ankle, leg and collarbone along with a ruptured spleen ended my racing days. It was incredible fun while it lasted. In 1970 I spent six months traveling in India on a 350cc Czech Jawa. It seemed like I spent as much time pushing it as I did riding it. Spent two months in Chile and Argentina in 1973 right in the middle of the fascist era, where I met my future wife and started learning a third language. That was when the fascist military junta was ruling Argentina.

    I still rode until I started a family and my cousin and wife, sitting on his bike, were killed by a drunk driver while waiting at a red light. Three beautiful young girls were orphaned in a millisecond. Wasn’t going to happen to my kids. Sold my Triumph T120 soon after and have never ridden a bike since.

    And I still vote Democrat.


    1. Jonas: You sure had an interesting motorcycle past, far beating me. Sounds like lots of fun, well, except pushing the Jawa. I never heard of the Honda you raced, so I looked it up. Really nice. I last owned a motorcycle in 1994 or so. I’ve briefly entertained the idea of buying one in Mexico, but haven’t and won’t now. I’m enjoying life too much. I’m too old and Mexicans drive too crazy. Great while it lasted.

      Oddly, considering the amount of time I drove bikes while significantly likkered up, I’ve never had anything you might consider an accident that mattered. Remarkable luck since I rode motorcycles for decades. Just three incidences. Once in the Air Force on my roommate’s Honda, I was slowly turning around in a street, hardly moving, lost my balance and fell over. No harm done. Later that same year, I was on a scooter going around a corner slowly, hit a wet spot and fell over. No harm done. The third time was in New Orleans in 1978. I had a Harley Sportster. Again, going around a corner, I hit an oil slick. Down it went. But no harm done. I’ve been lucky.


  5. Flying a small aircraft, something I always wanted to do, but never had the time. I did get to do the motorcycle extensively though. Two marriages, still in the second one for 36 years. Four kids (two mine, two hers), 11 grandchildren. We lived near Cleveland and took our motorcycle to Montreal, Key West, the West Coast, up and down the PCH, and everywhere in-between.

    Sold everything twice to travel except the bike. Seven years ago sold the last house I’ll ever own, sold the bike, sold the coffee shop to my oldest son. Bought an RV, and spend four months a year in a campground near our children and grandchildren. The rest of the year we just follow the sun. I miss the bike, wish I could’ve done the airplane, but health got in the way.

    I’d do it all over again, and hopefully so would my wife. Sometimes I curse all the oxygen tubes and machines, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve got memories that make me wonder how I was able to do it all.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, diagnosed with genetic COPD at the age of 40. I’ve been on oxygen full-time for the last 10-12 years. One of the reasons I sold the bike instead of taking it with us on the RV.

        I walk every morning and, of course, have to stop frequently, so people keep asking me if I’m okay. I’m doing better than okay. I’m living far longer than I should have and traveling all year. Good memories, great life.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dave: You’ve mentioned this problem before, haven’t you? If it wasn’t you, it was some other reader. Since it’s not real common, I’m thinking it was you and that I forgot. Just seeing names here without faces makes remembering who said what more difficult for this old coot. Plus, I just have a lousy memory that worsens by the year.

          In any event, I just read up on the illness again. Doesn’t sound good, but you seem to be doing pretty well. I’m very glad. Keep on walking, but hurry it up a bit!


  6. I took a decidedly nonlinear career path. I worked on a couple of factory assembly lines, as a house carpenter, and as an underground miner in five different mines in four different states, and as an auto mechanic. Along the way I collected degrees in literature and philosophy. Eventually I got a degree in electrical engineering and worked for the Air Force for 22 years. Now I teach a “Money and Macroeconomics” class at the local university’s Continuing Education department. I’m glad I did things that way.

    Most of the engineers I worked with went from high school to four years of college (as an engineering student you get maybe two or three electives outside your major) to an engineering career. I got the distinct impression that most of them would have liked to take a detour or two along the way.


  7. The linear path ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. A man will miss things, good and bad, on either path.

    But a man who has not (or does not) ride a motorcycle? Such a pity. One of life’s greatest pleasures.


    1. Ray; Of course, I rode motorcycles for decades. I don’t now for a variety of sensible reasons. One is my age. Another is Mexican drivers who share the highways and byways with me. There are other excellent reasons too.

      One day your motorcycle riding days will end. Count on it. With luck, not too soon. I envy you in that respect.


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