It was true that she was a “Harley babe”, but she wasn’t so easily pigeonholed into some neat little cubby hole with that label. When you looked closer, you found a complex personality that found freedom in some unusual ways.
To start with she came from an upper middle class family who owned a motel on the beach. She had a four year degree in Psychology. She was a feminist. She worked for the local university. She had the penthouse condominium overlooking the river. At nearly fifty, she had the body of an athletic twenty year old. She had a shy smile, and permanently tanned skin from so many years on the beach.
You might find it hard to cross a feminist with a biker chick, but it showed in the fact that she rode her own Harley, rather than on the back of some guy’s bike. She had mellowed from the point of being offended if a guy opened the door for her, but it still crossed her mind to say, “I could do it for myself.”
She had been a fire inspector, a counselor for troubled kids, a part of the enrollment staff for the university, and numerous other positions of responsibility. She is the type of person you can count on. The type that never forgets a birthday even though you hadn’t remembered hers for decades. She stood by those who she considered friends.
As teenagers we used to ride through Tomoka forest in her car or mine for hours. We’d do this several times a week and discuss everything under the sun. Things that guys usually can’t ask girls, and things that girls can’t ask guys. Things on philosophical levels and sociological levels and levels of levels. She was an intellectual, and I enjoyed that. I didn’t have many friends who could function on that level. We did this for decades.
She was a physically attractive woman as well as being an intellectual. It was a rather scary combination to be around for a guy like myself, who didn’t have a wealth of self confidence. I tried on several occasions to steer the relationship towards a romantic one, but I don’t know if it was my own ineptitude or her subtle resistance that kept us from ever exploring that part of our togetherness. It probably wouldn’t have worked, but I always wondered. There are few women who have been a part of my life for as long as she has.
She never got married, and neither did I. She never had children and neither did I. Not that the reasons were ever involved with the other person, just two intellectuals traveling similar paths down different roads. Our choices through life were quite different, and our social circle seldom shared the same participants, but we still kept in touch occasionally.
We met as teens when she was my cousin’s best friend, and some thirty years later we found ourselves working at the same university. We were both social outcast because we smoked, and found ourselves outside the building sharing conversations and cigarettes. I can’t say that the relationship was as close thirty years later, but there was still a connection.
She recently lost her younger brother to cancer. Not that I remember her being that close to him, but I saw a sorrow in her eyes that told volumes. Lessons on life and loss that we had never shared, but that were a weight on her soul. My heart went out to her, but I didn’t know what to say. There seldom is a right thing to say about a loss like that.
So as I sit here in pain, trying to finish this book before I die, I salute you my friend. May our friendship live on long after we both have died in this story I tell, in this book I hope to get published.