I glance up at the tell-tale squeak from the spring on the screen door. A glimpse of his hair tells me he went for a ride on his bike. That perfect wind-blown puff is not achieved any other way. I know if I was a little closer I would be able to see traces of bugs on his face or neck. Or perhaps nestled in that pompadour hairdo. His eyes shine as they always do after a ride. After more than eleven years of knowing him, ten of those as his wife, this boyish love of speed on a motorcycle has not waned.
"How are you?" he asks.
"I'm good." I smile back even though I don't feel like it. "How was your bike ride?"
"Good!" he nearly giggles.
He's closer to me now, and I can smell the exhaust on his clothing. I used to hate that smell. His delight threatens to sweep me out of my black mood as the smell of motorcycle plucks, from the stash in my mind, a memory of a time when the weight on our shoulders was not so elephantine...
We drove by that lot a dozen times before he ever said it. "I think I'm gonna offer that guy a hundred bucks for that bike."
"Ummm... okay. Are you sure?" I felt panicky. We had only been married a month and I was nineteen years old. A hundred dollars for a bike that hasn't run for who knows how many years? A hundred dollars felt like a thousand to me. I knew he could get it running though. He proved that with those crappy dirt bikes Josh gave my dad while we were engaged. "Well, if you're sure it's worth it... I guess so," I said skeptically.
My worries were unfounded in the end. In fact, I was grateful for that bike. Hot summer nights found us riding down Main Street on our way to a movie, or to the ice cream shop, or to nowhere-in-particular. Stoplights brought awareness of the asphalt under our feet, still blazing with the heat of the sun, long since set. Those nowhere-in-particular rides left me shivering as we passed fields of alfalfa or wheat with their rainbird sprinklers dropping the temperature but still greeting us with their friendly chatter. Arms wrapped around him and breathing in the scent of him, I would kiss his neck or his earlobes to annoy him. Any other time, annoy would not be the word of choice for that action, but, at sixty miles per hour, a kiss that was even the slightest bit wet made for a cold neck or earlobe and he would growl at me to stop. Laughter would inevitably bubble up from my throat at his hollow threats. Any cares we might have had were whipped away by the wind, leaving us alone in our sixty mile-per-hour world.
"Hey," he says snapping me back to the present moment. "You okay?"
"Yeah," I sigh. I wish I could stay in that memory forever. But my power is not in memories, it is in this moment. I am here, now.