I sat on the scooter in the motel parking lot, looking at the road. Turn left and commit suicide. Turn right and go home.
In 2009 I had just gotten divorced, sold off, donated, gave away, or threw out everything I owned. Everything except for what would fit on the scooter – a couple of dry bags with clothes, camping stuff, tool kit, spare parts and extra gas.
The plan was to ride to L.A. Other than that it was pretty open ended. I’d tell friends I was riding my 150cc Genuine Stella scooter to L.A. and they’d ask if I was moving there, or coming back. I was vague with my answers. “Well, I’ll head west. If I like it, I’ll stay. If not, I’ll come back. If I find a place I like along the way, maybe I’ll stay there.”
I didn’t plan on coming back. I don’t know if really planned on making all the way there. I wasn’t sure what I was planning.
I was recently divorced. I had some money from the house sale during the divorce. I had stopped working to prepare for the trip. Gave notice on my apartment, gave away boxes of books to friends. Put all my photographs from my time as a photographer into storage. I donated or tossed everything else.
I spent a lot of time preparing the scooter. I replaced the exhaust with an after market one for more power and better sound. I got new tires and tubes. I disconnected the sidecar as I though it would slow me down too much. I mounted a 2.5 gallon aluminum gas can to the scooters rear fender. It looked like a little beer keg and was connected to the scooters gas tank with an on/off valve. With the scooters 2 gallon tank and the extra tank, I could go over 300 miles between gas stops.
I mapped out a basic route – west on MA route 20, then wherever. Really, any planning was meaningless. I wonder if it was a show for others to convince them I was doing something, or maybe a show for me for the same reason?
My mother had recently died after a bout with alzheimers and dementia. She had spent almost 30 year living as a widow. My father died in 1980 after fighting cancer for 2 or 3 years.
That was where it started. I was 15 years old when my father died and it hit me hard. I basically turned off. I quit almost everything I was doing or enjoyed, stopped trying in school, and tried to turn off my feelings. I rejected offers of help or support. I actively refused help when my mother offered to have me talk to someone. The “someone” for her was going to be one of the priests at our church. I didn’t want any part of that. I was trying to figure out why my Dad, who was a very devout Catholic, would die. Why? The old blue-haired church ladies as said “Oh, he’s in a better place, he’s with God now.” Fuck that!! Why wasn’t he with me and my mother and brothers?
Maybe talking to a priest would have helped. Maybe it would have explained why God would take someone so young like my Dad. But a 15 year old kid knows everything already, so….
Years, decades go by and I suffer from depression without even knowing it, and definitely not understanding it. And without getting help.
So I am headed west. Stopped the first night in a cheap motel in western Massachusetts. The next morning, I sat on the scooter in the motel parking lot, looking at the road. Turn left and commit suicide. Turn right and go home.
I turned right.