Thursday, October 29, 2015

Parting Ways and New Beginnings

I parted ways with an good friend yesterday.

We had only been together for a little more than six years.

It may be a sign of how tightly I firewalled my professional life from my personal life that when we first became acquainted many people seized on the relationship as part of my identity.

Or was it just that people found us seemingly such an odd couple, a community marketer and a biker.

My departed friend is a Harley-Davidson Cross Bones.Reyn_on_Bike_1

I had always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle so at the age of 61 I went at it with purpose, learning to ride and enjoy what are called heavy bikes.

The curb weight of a Cross Bones when outfitted like mine is just north of 750 pounds.  That means with my weight and gear and occasionally a passenger, I had to learn to balance and maneuver as much a half ton.

The urge to learn to ride was instilled while riding behind a close boyhood friend on his mini-Honda Trail 50 in the early 1960s.

Having said goodbye to the “Bones,” we have a new challenge now, or better said an old one.

It is a well-maintained 1985 Century Mustang II inboard-outboard bow-rider roundabout boat that we keep at the nearby lake where we spend a few days each week.

When I was about 9, I first learned to water ski behind an old plywood boat that was powered by a little 35 horse power Evinrude.  The one we have now is closer to the one my parents had in the late-1970s.

It came to me while writing this bit of memoir that I often left activities behind during my career.

I don’t know about you but I’ve often wondered about the seeming association of activities such as this with place and time and why we leave some behind and take up others.

For instance, I left downhill skiing skiing, tennis and water skiing behind when I moved from Spokane to Anchorage in 1978 although there was ample opportunity for both in each city.

Downhill and Nordic skiing were actually more accessible in Anchorage with several areas right in the municipality including Alyeska, a resort 40 miles from downtown that has been ranked among the top 25 destinations.

Big Lake lies a few miles across Knik Arm from downtown Anchorage but 60 minutes by highway skirting that waterway.  The “bridge to nowhere,” would have actually had a destination.

Similarly I carried on a love of nature photography when I moved from Spokane to Anchorage but then left it behind when I moved to Durham in 1989.

Part of the reason, I guess, could be that a person’s career tends to intensify over time, at least the way I went about mine.   Or is it just that our leisure pursuits become more ambitious?

Another reason is that my job in community marketing meant that when I wasn’t showcasing activities such as these, I was spending my time thinking about how to do it better.

But about five years before I retired when I gave notice to my governing board and the community, my mind opened to what I would be able to do when that time came.

I started going down the list of what I had been postponing doing such as learning to ride a motorcycle, learning to fly an airplane, digging into family history and researching and writing essays such as these.

During my four decade career and into retirement has been the overarching dream of spending time lakeside.

Now that that time has come, for as long as I’m able my leisure, physical and intellectual activities will revolve around the lake, which is just fine with me.

I can always rent a bike from time to time.

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