April 4, 2015

Motorcycling The Best Therapy

Tucson was a place I had heard about most of my life. My mother spent most of her childhood in Tucson and longed to return there one day. Many years ago I tried to make arrangements to take her there as a gift, but it never worked out. So spending more than 3 weeks there was a real treat for me, as I wandered the older parts of the city imagining what life was like there in the 1940's.

I remembered that I have a photo of the house my mother grew up in and decided I wanted to try to find it. The photo is in my storage at my niece Shelli's home. So I asked Shelli's son Zachary to find the photo and scan it to me, along with any other photos of the neighborhood. After some searching and a Google Hangout to go through photos together, Zack sent me all there was. Amazingly the house address, 243, showed clearly in one of the photos.

My mother and I don't speak, nor have we for years. There has been so much pain within our relationship that I think we both prefer it this way. So I called my daughter Olivia, who has a good relationship with my mom, and asked her to call my mom and see if she remembered the street name she grew up on.

"Nana says she grew up on 23rd Street. She said it was near the major freeway. Does that sound right?"

23rd Street in Tucson is very near the main part of Downtown where many older homes are still standing. Looking at the map I saw an East 23rd and a West 23rd. By looking at Google Maps I couldn't see the home from the photo, but I did see one quite similar on East 23rd. I hopped on the Indian Scout and rode over to the 23rd Street.

When I came upon the home at 242 East 23rd Street I realized immediately that this was not the house. The house I was seeking would have been across the street from this one anyway. This house had the same architecture as the house I was seeking and was probably built at the same time. The owner of the house was sanding and painting doors on his front porch and was kind enough to talk to me about my quest.

"I'm sure that's East 23rd. Look at the way it's situated on the corner," he said as he looked at my photo. "You probably won't find the house still standing, but that is definitely the east side."

So I mounted up again, filled with excitement and anticipation, and headed to East 23rd.

One look at the corner where the house should be and I realized it was long gone. But I also knew that I was in the right place. I stood on the corner where my mother had once played as a child and this brought me a great sense of completion. In many ways, in that moment, I had come full circle.

Thinking of my mother as a little girl helped me find forgiveness for the brutality I suffered at her hands. My mother will always be the only mother I ever have and I'll always love her, even though she hurt me. When I think of my mother as an adult, she has always been such a child in her mannerisms. So to find the home of that little girl who never grew up helped me connect with the part of my mother that I love.

Riding away from Tucson a week later I was filled with peace. I feel I've sorted out another painful part of my past, found forgiveness, and I've been able to leave that pain there on that street corner in Tucson, free to ride away from the resentment.

Motorcycling is often called "the best therapy." For me Motorcycle Therapy has been remarkably effective. So many miles have given me the time to really meditate on the issues of my past, helping me to recover, find forgiveness, and finally let go and be free.

Just as time has changed that corner in Tucson, time has changed my perspective on my life with Mom.

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