Monday, August 4, 2014

Anatomy of Friendship

In the rearview mirror I see my friend Jinny has fallen far behind. That’s unusual. Jinny is my motorcycle “riding soul mate”. We’ve traveled close to five thousand miles together. Having found each other through a love of riding and a search for the type of self-worth that comes to women through women friends alone.  
This year we’re riding from Arizona to Idaho, then Eastern and Central Washington. We ride “fast and tight”. More like one unit than two motorcycles. At the moment Jinny starts to fall back we’ve been riding a Utah freeway at roughly 85mph. I slow and pull off on the shoulder as her bike rolls up to mine.
Her face is covered in blood. Her bike’s windshield shook loose and blew into her face. She lay down on the side of the freeway saying “I just need a minute to put my head back”. First I took a picture to post on Facebook (like you wouldn’t!). Then called 911. Can you say “HIT WITH A WINDSHIELD AT 85MPH”?!
After the EMT’s cleaned her up and let her go we rode on. By the end of the day we’d been broke down on a mountain pass, planted a smiley face sticker on a homeless man and an outhouse, guzzled some alcohol, and laughed and laughed and laughed.
The anatomy of a friendship.
I think a lot about friendship. About people who have come and gone and why or how they mattered. I think about the people who remain in my life. Why and how they matter still. It’s important to think about these things. There is only so much time and energy. 
Jinny and I are walking back from the store with three of the twenty women we’ve ridden motorcycles with for thirteen years. Every year anywhere from twenty to forty of us take a three day motorcycle trip. We’ve been to Canada, Idaho, Montana, and several places in Washington. We’ve ridden horses, rafted rivers, skinny dipped, danced on bars, been banned from ever coming back and been begged to come back again.
This year we’re in Leavenworth. A beautiful town near a beautiful river that escaped burning down just before we got there. I’ve volunteered to go to the grocery store after spending hours in my room incredibly fatigued. This thing that’s wrong with me, this thing… rearing its ugly ass head to interrupt something I love once again.
 We’re walking back carrying our grocery bags, unusually quiet for us. My mouth opened up before asking my brain. “I’m not happy about my health”. Jinny stopped and looked at me with awe on her face. “Thank you for that” She says. “I was wondering. Everything you’ve said about it is always so positive and strong”. That made me cry. Sob actually. I sobbed. And the women gathered. They put their arms around me.
In Deanna’s arms I’m crying: “I miss my old self. I miss who I was”. She replied “that’s okay honey. We all do.” Deanna who has seen tragedy. We walk back to the house in silence, prepare dinner and do cartwheels.
The anatomy of a friendship.


  1. I find it interesting you picked this subject at this particular time since I have been thinking about what this group of women means to me as well and what their friendship has meant to me through the years. I came to this group with little experience as a rider, and I had never ridden without my husband. Four days before my first trip a woman I had never met, getting her hair done at the same place I was, asked me if I would go on a three day motorcycle trip with her so she would have someone to go with she knew. Next thing I knew my husband decided I should go, packed my bags, and sent me off to Leavenworth with this woman. Her name is Karen. Our first stop was lunch where someone suggested we introduce ourselves and the gal across from me said to me "I'm deaf". Having been around deaf people before and contrary to what Karen says (and she says I was yelling...she thinks it makes a better story) I said "alright, I will talk right to you" the woman across tips her head and looks at me and then said "My name is Beth. And you are????" Well embarrassment all over my face and I said, "I am so sorry, I thought you said you were Deaf!!!!! I am Deanna" after the laughter died down... introductions continued and so did the nick names...... we continued into Leavenworth and Karen became Special Ed, I became Ruby (I wear Ruby Slippers on my vest) and we became the Three Monkeys and we have been close, solid friends ever since. It is now 10 years later, we have returned to Leavenworth but this group of women, these Ladies on the Loose, have ridden to many places together. For me, they have watched me through the end of my 30+ yr marriage to an verbally abusive, controlling ex-husband, through his exploitation of me at the end of our marriage, through the first fatality in our group along the road, through my struggle out of these darkness, finding a new love, losing my mother, losing my family by their own choices afterward, growing past this pain, growing into a new me, finding happiness, finding a more peaceful way to exist..... Jinny said you look better than I have seen you in years. I feel better than I have in years. Through all these years, these girls, gals, women, pals, friends, buddies, cohorts - they have ridden the wind with me.... they have shared, cried, laughed with me.... They are my friends and I am so grateful they have shared this journey with me. I am grateful to have them.

  2. I was always told to surround yself with the best as you can see in these women I have done just exactly that I am blessed. Kelly wrote an amazing article but again thanks Jinny