Philadelphia was getting close. Oneshirt dropped off the Columbus St. exit and we followed him down, into the city and along Tasker until reaching his duplex. The bike rattled over the broken pavement and potholes, as though finally relenting to the aches of the road. There seemed to be more traffic, and more lights here than I'd ever seen. Even in the relative quiet of night I could feel one thousand pounds of pressure bearing down. I was unused to the city, and everything was strange and disorienting.
We pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of Oneshirt's place and shut off the bikes for goodbyes. The Honda looked odd in the city, with my heap of tattered bags strapped along her spine. I had a glass of water and said hello to GibsonGirl, who'd woken up when we arrived. She was glad to see Oneshirt returned alive and without missing pieces.
Porkroll and I rolled off towards the highway. Fifteen miles till the Delaware line. The air smelled like home and humidity. A late summer storm had built on the road ahead of us, and soon the red-pink lightning was crashing soundlessly on the horizon. A massive semi-truck swerved into my lane, forcing me to ride the white line between cars until I was free. After everything else, it didn't faze me much. One last obstacle before the end, I figured.
The storm was still boiling on the horizon, just far enough away not to be heard. The omen impressed itself on me, and I wondered what my homecoming had brought with it. We made one last stop for fuel a few miles from home and I topped off Porkroll's tank as a small thanks for the good company. It was a blessing to have the two of them with me for those last lonely miles. I filled my own bike and we kicked our engines back to life. We promised to meet at the diner in a few days, once I'd settled in, and rode off in our own directions.
In a few moments I was back on all my old roads. Past the high school and the liquor stores, past the baseball diamond and the town flower shop. Then up the long hill and by the old swimming pool, nearing the street where I'd grown up. Past houses where friends used to live and into the amber glow of the street lamps that lined my drive. I have left and returned so many times, and always the feeling was the same. A surreal quiet haunts these familiar places, best felt in the still of night. The constancy of the old places pushing at the mercury.
The garage door was already opening as I pulled up to the drive. It slid upward, revealing my parents. My mother was in her nightgown, having waited up in case I arrived. Six months had passed since I left this driveway, then covered in snow, the air a terrible 29 degrees. Many things were changed.
I turned off the bike, and sat for a moment to marvel at the long circle we'd made. 12,000 miles across three seasons, two countries, and 28 states. All on about 180 gallons of gas. I'd been determined to make it West, sure, but had never dreamed that the bike would make it back. At least if it died now, it was home. I washed up and sat down with Dad. He poured me a beer, home-brewed.
Home tasted great.
6 Months, 12,000 Miles, 28 States, 180 Gallons of Gas
|Ok, so I had a water first, then I had the beer.|
Gibson Girl's blog can be found here: Gibson Girl Blogspot