It was a perfect day for a ride—a sunny Southern California day in October and 90 degrees outside. The euphoric feeling continued, as my boyfriend Don and I had just disembarked from a four-day cruise to Mexico to celebrate his 44th birthday. I started for my car—he got on his motorcycle, excited to head up the coast for some snorkeling while I headed to my desk.
“Every day's a good day when you're on a motorcycle,” he reminded me.
When Don and I began seeing each other after a 20-year hiatus, my dad clipped an article about 40-somethings riding and how dangerous it was, complete with ominous statistics. “Don has been riding since he was eight,” I told my father. “He's an experienced rider.” But, I knew he had a point, and it is always in the back of my mind.
Women are notorious for control issues. I recognize this about myself, especially after a round of self-help books during my divorce, and a motorcycle doesn't jive with that illusion of control.
Don called me from the beach an hour after we'd parted, just to tell me how awesome it was; visibility in the water was 20 feet and he had seen some lobsters. Then, another hour later, he called again. “I've been in a bad accident. Meet me at the hospital.” My response was immediate, “No way. Come on. You're joking again.” Just before we had left for the cruise, he had called from the parking lot, “I'm at the sheriff's station. I guess I was going a little too fast. We might be a little late to the ship,” he'd told me, just to mess with me.
Now, I was hoping this was again the case—it wasn't. This was a very real matter of some oil and gravel on a winding mountain back road. Euphoria, gone in a matter of seconds. “I'm really bloody. I don't want you to faint when you see me,” Don warned me.
I didn't faint when I saw him. Instead, I held his unbroken hand. I watched the nurses brush and scrub the gravel out of his road rash. I looked at the x-ray of his shattered wrist. Later, I slathered triple antibiotic ointment on his wounds and changed bandages for weeks. He now has a titanium plate and seven screws in his arm.
The motorcycle managed to escape comparatively unscathed. I will admit, I was tempted to bribe Don's buddy to throw it over a cliff rather than have him retrieve it. But I know the day is fast approaching when he is going to get back on his mount, as he's now strong enough to work the clutch.
I've seen other friends have an accident, sell their bikes and give up riding. There are stories of wives who laid down ultimatums. However, there are certain men who have motorcycles in their blood. They will continue to ride, even after accidents resulting in permanent damage far worse than Don suffered.
Control is an illusion. Women have a hard time with that. We have to let go, and trust in the goodness of the universe. And if your man loves his motorcycle, you must come to terms with his bike and the risk. Don asked me if I didn't want him to ride anymore. I didn't answer right away. I know he loves riding, it makes him happy, and I love him. I got him new protective riding boots for Christmas.