This weekend was red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. It was your favorite pair of jeans. An electric thunderstorm ending a draught. Four cherries on your scratch-off ticket. Flawless, like the duck — perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
A memory resurfaced this morning while I was writing in the cafe, a strange correlation made by my sleepy mind. The image I remembered was one of those golden moments when you’re afraid to move or breathe or change anything because at that second, the entire world is so perfect you don’t want to scare it away. Moments of fleeting bliss. Zen moments.
Queue one my favorite bands Luna, covering the Velvet Underground song “Ride Into the Sun.”
I remembered a Sunday spring afternoon long ago, zipping down Storrow Drive in Boston on my little white scooter, cute blue-eyed boy riding on the back, en route to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was late afternoon, the time when the sun descends from the sky and shoots gold all over the trees. I smiled into the rays. I knew we were both hearing the same music playing in our heads — the boy and I — it was Luna’s cover of the Velvet Underground song “Ride Into the Sun,” and I could hear it clearly as if it were being piped in through my little white helmet.
We rode that stretch of parkway in a breath of bliss, nothing but sunshine and Luna, the Charles River, open road. A perfect moment, savored. I smiled and thought, “I could die right now and be so happy.”
I don’t remember if the Red Sox won that night, but I remember coming out of the stadium to find my little white scooter missing. The next day I would be called down to identify the body, opening the glove compartment to let the water and seaweed spill out. She had been found floating in the Charles River. The Kryptonite lock was still through the wheel, which meant she had been lifted and carried to the Mass Ave Bridge by some drunk Yankees fans, and thrown off into the icy depths of the dirty river.
That was a decade ago.
Yesterday was shamelessly delicious. Orin and I rode to Renton in a perfect moment, this long stretch of dusty road past Boeing, holiday-deserted. The sun warmed my face and I basked — it felt like it had been months since I’d seen daylight. Aphrodite skimmed the pavement effortlessly, vibrationless, nearly silent, and I was free to simply enjoy the ride — no shifting, no pleading with her to top 50 mph, wondering if the engine was going to explode around the next bend.
After Renton we climbed up to Alki, riding along the beach, every mountain within 100 miles pushing its snowy shoulders above the water for us. We looped West Seattle at a languid pace. Coasting along the waterfront, sunshine on my face, warm, with a bellyful of lunch, I realized my head was totally silent. I was not planning, not analyzing, not trying to make sense of anything, or capture my experience in words. I was not replaying or practicing or archiving. I just… was.
I soaked in the moment, the air, captured it with my skin, savored it on my tongue. It was a pure moment of Zen. And I thought, “I could die right now and be so happy.”
The glow persisted for the rest of the afternoon, and though my head predictably turned the volume back up, I didn’t have much material to work with. Good friends, new scooter, perfect apartment, good job with a fat raise, fulfilling school, I’m healthy, I’m sane — there’s not a single thing I would change right now, if I could. So I’d review that list, reassuring myself, making the dialog quiet down again, so it could just become waves in Puget Sound, and mountains in the sky, and sun making the metallic midnight blue Vespa sparkle like a chariot.
When I returned home in the early evening to pick up some items and venture back out, the scooter would not start. The LCD display sputtered and the engine clicked and whirred, and then silence. I checked the kill switch, which has a habit of getting pushed in when you put the seat up. I made sure the brakes were in. I checked the oil. I checked the sparkplug. I tried again. No dice. Aphrodite, my three-day-old scooter, was dead.
See, I don’t want to become one of those people who really believes that when things seem too good to be true, they are. I want to believe I deserve a shot at happiness. I felt like the universe was getting back at me for having such a great day. “For every action, an equal and opposite reaction.” But that can’t be true, can it? I’m trying to hang onto the other maxim, “shit happens.” Sometimes, shit’s timing is not so great. In this case, I’m glad I got to enjoy Monday so fully before the shit happened, and I’m grateful the shit happened in my driveway and not in Renton.
I was paralyzed by the irony of riding the Frankenstella out to Greenwood last night for dinner. The scooter I forcefully abandoned because I know an abusive relationship when I see one. She took me all the way out to 120th without incident, and then home, in the pitch black night, over the Ballard Bridge which smelled like the sea, all along 15th to Denny, where I rode past Vespa Seattle, gazing through the showroom window and grinding my teeth in frustration.
Big People Scooters came this morning and picked up the immobilized Aphrodite, loaded her on a trailer next to another midnight blue Vespa (though an LX150), and I watched her disappear around the corner. I returned sullenly to work. My friends are trying to convince me that the coincidences are just that — but my sister can recommend a good exorcist for the Frankenstella.
Luckily, it appears Aphrodite suffered only from a dead battery, which I imagine was from sitting in the showroom for so long. Lots of people have cited the stock battery in the GTS as total crap, and recommend replacing it as soon as you get the bike home. Well, she’s got a new battery now, and I’ll have them examine the charging system to make sure that’s working; I’m not totally comfortable with the fact that I rode nearly 200 miles over the weekend and the battery didn’t charge. But she’ll be due for her first service in a week or two, based on my current weekend adventures.
I’m hitting the restart button. Control + R. Refresh. Clean slate. “Coincidences” bedamned. From here on out, it will be smooth sailing. Or scooting. Maybe it’s all the X-files I’ve been watching, but, I want to believe.