#10 In Roads-Matt
I ask what the chain he’s wearing as a bracelet is from. “It’s a little Harley chain from a bike I rebuilt for my son. Been wearing it a long time. Can’t get it off, actually. My son was a little guy then, but he’s 18 now.”
The father of 18, 14, and 7-year old kids is on his way home from working in North Dakota. He does three weeks on, then returns to Grass Valley, California for the one week off he gets a month. “I miss my kids and feel guilty being gone so long, but my girlfriend takes care of things and that helps,” the 40 year old tells me. We struck up a conversation after the affable construction worker dumped his cup of ice all over himself and me as he tried to function within the confines of the narrow airline seats. We yacked for two hours. Topics included his respect for his Vietnam vet father and his “good ol’ girl” mom, what it was like being the baby of the family, and how he was sad that he and his wife divorced. He tells about his brother’s 1978 Shovelhead that he didn’t ride much, then giggles when he says his mom shared in confidence that she thought her eldest son didn’t really like the bike because it hurt his leg to start it. Matt says he wants to get a bike, he’d like a Street Glide, but kids are a priority. Then he asks where I live and what I do. I tell him he’s not going to like the answer. I no sooner get the words out about living on the road before he starts freaking out.
“You’re kidding!!” he yells right there in the middle of the plane. “You get to ride everyday!!? And you have a Street Glide? Aw man! You are living my dream. You are such a brat. You are such a spoiled rotten brat! I’m glad I didn’t know what you did earlier; I never would have even talked to you because I am so jealous. You’re so lucky! And hey, how old are you, anyway?” After I tell him I just turned 58, he says, “Wow, and you still ride. That’s great.” He smiles as if I’m ancient and past an acceptable riding age. I ask if I can take his picture and he agrees, but continues on with the absorption process as he fingers the business card I hand over when he says he’d like to keep in touch because he’s sure I run across good bike deals all the time. “You know,” he says while waving my card at me, “I can’t wait to call you up and tell you I bought a bike. I’m going to be like you someday, just free and in the wind and I’m going to ride with you too but for now, if you ever need a place to stay you let me know. I could use a good cook at the house and you can even have your own room.”