Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The leather life


1997.  By this point, my father had reached the apex of his love affair with motorcycles and everything such the like.  Full mutton chops, a fresh eagle tattoo and a Harley chained to the middle of the garage floor (for security reasons) would prove so.  Being a ripe second grader, I couldn't quite grasp the culture, but was intrigued.

The one time he put me on the bike, we only made it once around the cul de sac where we lived -- white-knuckled and heart pounding, I begged to be brought back to solid ground.  Flinging his worn black bandana from my head, I vowed never again.  Needless to say, the biking adventures stopped there for me (save for a brief obsession with a mini-bike he brought home one weekend -- more a splurge toy for him under the guise of miniature muscle for my adoration -- I did adore it, though).  A piece of me appreciated the metal beast, still, but from a safe distance. 

In accordance with this culture we had adopted (I more partially so), we made a day trip into the city for a motorcycle convention.  The McCormick Place boomed with the zeitgeist of the biker world -- both intimidating and inclusive.  For the most part, I only remember lots of people, a very large indoor bridge connecting buildings (fascinating!) and being small.  Boot- and denim-clad legs surrounded me.  A sea of butts -- and it was noisy.  I skipped to keep up.

My interest was piqued in one huddled booth with a narrow entrance.  Ducking through the plastic flap opening, the smell of leather intensified.  Biking paraphernalia hung absolutely everywhere: eagle bandanas, multicolor lens sunglasses, leather gloves with the fingers cut off, and leather jackets.  In a severe moment, the intrigue of this biker haven was brought to my level, and the walls came a crumbling.  A leather jacket with a big, toothy silver zipper, an adjustable belt around the waist, and a giant Glory-Be-to-God Harley Davidson eagle logo spread across the back in a giant patch made its way snugly over my shoulders.  It smelled divine.  It fit me perfectly.  My father's pride was palpable.  I saw the cash leave his hand and I walked out of that booth a new woman.  If I entered that convention an outsider, I left a card-holding V.I.P. 

When I was dropped back off at my mom's for the week, a few brows raised (a clear victory for my dad).  My grandparents nearly objected, but my love for the thing was so clear that they couldn't bare to take it away from me.

The town I grew up in was quaint, almost to a fault.  OshKosh B'Gosh, monograms, Keds, Lands End, state-of-the-art minivans.  Walker Elementary cozily nestled itself straight in the middle of it all -- an oasis of safety and tradition.  I'd been thinking about the moment all day long, so when it was time for end-of-the-day lineup, I approached my blue painted cubby with all the tender temperance of a new mother, looking sweetly in at my beloved jacket.  Swinging it over my shoulders, my empowerment was unstoppable; the smile on my face fierce.  The look reflected back from those 27 other pearly second-grade faces will forever stay with me: a perfect brew of shock and dissidence (and a reluctant drop of jealousy).  My teacher, Mrs. Johnson, was a sixty something who spent her free time rollerblading (with the road rashes to prove it).  She knowingly winked at me and I simmered in my glory.  For that moment in time, I was invincible.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for commenting. I read every single one. :)