There is a stretch of road that I take frequently on my way home from an evening out on my bike. There are no streetlights. There is a nature preserve on one side and empty parking lots on the other. The city lights shine bright from beyond the parking lots, but there is a quality of desolation to the space in-between.
Even on hot summer desert nights,when I ride along this section of road, the temperature is cool. Usually, there is a sweet scent along that ride. Flowers perfuming the roadway. This inevitably recalls to mind the many night rides my first boyfriend and I went on. I was 15, he was 16 and had a beat up black Suzuki GS400.
I lived in the woods about thirteen miles outside of town. I stayed awake at night, my ears straining for the sound of his motorcycle. Because it was so quiet where I lived, his bike could be heard miles down the road. As soon as I made out the familiar engine sound, I carefully took the screen off the frame and opened my bedroom window. The window rolled open at an angle, so I did a limbo trick to get out. The roll-arm was on the inside, so the window stayed open the entire time I was gone, letting in any number of mosquitos and bugs.
He rode past my house and cut the engine, coasting another short distance down the road. Navigating by moonlight and memory, I ran up the hill, through the row of trees that served as a property line between our house and our closest neighbor and up to the gravely paved road where he waited for me.
He always made me wear a helmet. We might be in cut-offs and t-shirts, but his helmet became mine. I’d snuggle up behind him and wrap my arms around his waist as he started the bike and took us down cool, perfumed country roads.