Being a Bolognesi
Even though I wasn't breaking the law, I felt like I should be in jail. When I first rode my motorcycle (pictured above), I thought, "how is this legal?" Speeding past cars as heavy as rhinos when the only thing separating me from mortal injury was a mesh jacket and a styrofoam shelled in plastic, I first felt the rush that kept me sane for my many months of unemployment after graduating from college.
But it's time to move on.
In going to Johns Hopkins, I finally get to do a lot of things that I've wanted to do for a long time. I get to live abroad again, something I knew I wanted in high school, and really wanted after I lived in France. I should have studied poli sci or history at U of I, and now I get to study both, along with economics, at SAIS. But going to SAIS is a trade off with certain things of varied importance. Without a doubt my greatest opportunity cost in regards to SAIS is selling my motorcycle, which I did today.
I bought my bike back in August of 2013, almost two years ago, and in those two years I put more than 5,000 miles on my motorcycle, a Kawasaki Ninja 250, that I named Nealana.
For those of you unfamiliar with my family, naming vehicles isn't all that uncommon with us. I know it seems downright weird, but I think that my brother and I started the tradition after the Dukes of Hazzard movie came out earlier this century -- the one with Sean William Scott, not the old show. In the movie, the orange 1969 Dodge Charger is named The General Lee, so naturally I decided if I was going to be able to drive like Bo Duke, I should probably name my car. So I did. My 1994 Toyota Camry's name was Harry, named after Dirty Harry, because when I bought the car off of a farm in Indiana, it was really dirty. Genius, I know.
Nealana came into my life when I was applying for a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Turkey. Only a couple months after graduating from college, I was steadily unemployed (great time to buy a bike, isn't it?) and rode my bike to Champaign from Danville for my Fulbright advising appointments. When I researched Turkey, I decided to research Turkish names. In keeping with my brother's nascent tradition of alliterations in naming vehicles, I decided to find an "N" name to correspond with "Ninja," the model of my bike. So he named his moped Monique the Moped, and my bike is Nealana the Ninja.
I landed on Nealana, Turkish for a wish that has been fulfilled. I was hoping that my wish to go to Turkey would be fulfilled. It wasn't. But Nealana got me through some difficult times. Living at home, unemployed, with friends off exploring new, exciting professions (none of those professions being in Danville, of course) Nealana provided a great escape from the basement of my parent's house. Sometimes I would just ride, occasionally very far away, for a 250, that is.
All riders know that the relationship with the bike is much more than a simple transactional one. Riding a motorcycle is much more intimate than driving a car, even more so than a manual transmission, which I also drive.
Not only do you have to use both hands and feet, you have to use your weight, and there are acquired skills that come with how well you can actually ride. You see, in a car, when you learn how to turn, that is pretty much it. You probably haven't gotten all that much better at a right hand turn than you did when you were 16. But on a bike, the more you ride, the better you get, and the better you get the more you want to ride. And when you can't ride, say for 7 months out of the year, all you want to do is ride.
And then there is the very real feeling of danger. Not the kind that people avoid, but the adrenaline that only riders can experience. A motorcycle can turn the same mundane road that you've driven on thousands of times into a hair-raising adventure each time you twist the throttle and the torque of the engine propels you far beyond the speed limit. The exhilaration of speeding through a corner on the perfect line with the wind screaming through your helmet so loud that even if the cops were on your tail you wouldn't realize it, is something that can only be experienced on a bike. Heck, maybe there is some credence to the Freudian notion that all men have a death wish (I mean, Pete Campbell believes it!)
Perhaps words can't do it justice.
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