I followed a young couple on a motorcycle off the ramp from the interstate to a backcountry road. They reminded me of my parent’s 1969 honeymoon to San Francisco. My mom tells it like they were young hippies on a motorcycle adventure. It’s hard to imagine my mom as a hippy, although my dad looked the part. The weather was rough and they found shelter in a cave on the side of the road. He had been drafted for the war in Vietnam. Soon he would be reporting for Officer Candidate School. His buddies were all over about the draft. One was an objector, the other a Canadian. Then there was my dad, a future war veteran, taking the long way around.
I watched the couple speed ahead of me on the open road. I pictured my parents and their adventurous spirit. I wondered what it would have felt like to ride for that distance. I imagined how vivid the scenery would be and how the wind must have felt in my mom’s hair. Everything was new and exciting. Love was literally in the air. They were off on this hurrah, chasing down fun and hiding from the uncertainties of the war to come. For that time it was them against the world. The young couple proceeded down the road without a care for the potholes around the bend.
The honeymoon was over, so to speak. They literally went to war and came back scarred. There are memories of the way things should have been. And feelings about where they got so far-gone. My dad was PTSD, he was brave, he was an antidisestablishmentarian (self-professed), he was distant, he was afraid, he was skeptical, and he was kind. My mom was all the things she hoped would fill his broken. It’s interesting to consider how we picture a marriage to be forever sunny and adventurous. Not pock marked and road weary. We travel to hard places and expect to find grace and forgiveness waiting for us. We end up on the side of the road with a broken down motorcycle and no helmet and we’re asked to find hope in the jumbled parts.
The broken pieces don’t make sense. We want them to fit, but everything is different. I dreamed about the young couple moving towards their horizon. There’s no telling what wars they will face or what adventure lies over the hill. They may have the tools to fix what impedes their progress, or they may sit on a heap of junk and hitch a ride. I watch hair whip free from her bandana, and him reaching back to touch her knee. Life will happen whether we run towards it or away.