Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mile 1,742: Chasing Ghosts

Sometimes I feel like I'm chasing ghosts. I ride Rocinante down crowded highways and rural dirt roads, but the ghosts always stay one step ahead of me. If I ride 70, they ride 71.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the day my Papaw stepped onto Omaha Beach with the rest of the 612th Tank Destroyers. I have been around for well over half of those 70 years, but he was only a part of 12 of them. He was the closest thing I had to a dad. And his memory, though always near me, feels at times like it's always just ahead, pulling me down the road as I try to make sense of it all.

I spent the day with my Houston Gypsy Brothers, which was about the best way I could have spent today. Another sunny day on a motorcycle. I could say more, but for now it's enough to just write a few words. Friends. Dads. Brothers. People I ride beside who understand what it means to chase ghosts, to put down a few more miles knowing full well that we all carry memories, hopes, and dreams about what will be around the next corner, and what we will get to see once we get over that next hill.

As a child I would box with my grandfather. He would say, "Put up your dukes," and I would. And I would imagine that we were fighters that we would watch together in the ring on Friday Night Fights. And every once in a while I would knock him out, and we would count to ten as loud as we could, and we would clang the imaginary bell at ringside.

Even though the sound of his voice has worn thirty years thin, I can still hear him. And I think when I rolled the throttle extra hard this afternoon on the way home, I imagined like I child that I was about to catch him.

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