Another blind curve and the sports car in the opposing lane flies around towards us, crossing blatantly over the double yellow into our lane. Highway reacts, without hesitation, and we miss him by less than a foot. Blackbird winds out around the next turn as Highway drops her down a gear to grab some more power.
We roll side to side with the bends, flying at 75 mph on a road rated for 30. Fortunately, this Sunday afternoon our lane is empty heading west. It seems the traffic is heading back into the valley, away from the coast, out of our way.
Fear creeps up my groin, attempting to settle in the pit of my stomach. I force it out with thrill, envisioning a battle within me, with the excitement physically squeezing the fear down and out. There's no place for fear on the back of any motorcycle. If you can't enjoy it, you don't belong there. Exhilaration fills every pore in my body as I drink in my first breath of freedom.
I don't want to play it safe, I want to feel the thrill. I've been playing it safe for so long. I want to feel excitement, I want to tempt fate, I want to push to my limits and breathe in abandon. I have no desire to die, today or any day; on the contrary. I want to live.
The road straightens out and we momentarily catch our breath. I think about my 22-year-old daughter again and how sad she would be if I died. In that moment, I let her go. To live my own life I have to let her live her own. I know she wants me to be happy. Since the divorce, she's been so hurt and lost. I'm glad she's found comfort in her fiance and her friends. I hope that one day she'll understand that I'm suffocating under the strain of playing life safe. I pray that if I die, she'll forgive me and understand that this is how I want to live.
When my father died at the age of 50 I was furious with him. I felt cheated. I didn't understand how he felt. Not until now, in this moment, in the Ortegas.
I remember that Jimi Hendrix said, "I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to." I think of my daughter one last time, smile and pray she understands as I see the next round of twisties ahead. Leaning forward I smack Highway's leg, my indication to go faster, as fast as he fucking can.
I long to drop my helmet, my gloves, my boots and armored jacket. I want to ride naked, as fast as the bike will take me. I want to swallow the air forced in my lungs at 110 mph and gasp for the laughter the erupts from my soul. It's time to take my life back, be bold, be honest, be alive.
This is the only life I get! No one, not even my daughter, has the right to take that away from me. I know she doesn't want to, not really. She's just afraid. I have to set the example to live, and live right now, for herself, as I live for myself. As for the rest of you, you have your life to live, so get busy living it, and let me live mine.