There was a time when one of my biggest accomplishments as a young adult of 20-something was buying and paying cash for a Honda Elite scooter off the show-room floor. It flew in the face of logic, especially with the whole new world of 5 lane boulevards and crazed drivers I had become all too acquainted with as a walking, single car, new bride. It seemed to be the kind of wreckless decision that people make when they are old enough to make right-wrong decisions for themselves. It felt dangerous, impractical, cool and a little irresponsible all at once. I was a newlywed of 22, living away from where I had grown up in the Oregon valley and freshly transplanted into the heart of sunny California.
I was living the dream… someone’s dream anyway.
I learned about real traffic and that gas was expensive ($1.24 a gallon!). With eggs running .86 cents a dozen, rent being $700.00 and living on a two person income of less than $11,000 a year I needed to economize quickly. My new husband and I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a second car choice that looked like a scooter, something that would outpace the economy of our 1980 Toyota Celica. At an easy 90 milers per gallon, I could go almost 200 miles on a tank of gas and in my mind, look pretty cool doing it.
Sitting atop the wide black Naugahyde seat, I thought I was the short legged, stocky-redheaded California version, of a California babe while atop this little pony. For me, it was throwing caution to the wind to ride a scooter, and one that revolutionized the look of scooters to boot. It was a showroom new, 1984 Honda Elite 125cc, complete with pop up headlight, in sparkling mica ruby red with sleek black accents.
Of course I had a helmet to accessorize my bad girl look, and the built in tootsie warmer that kept me cozy on those chilly, 70* mornings on the way to work was a nice bit of rich girl glamour.
Truth be told, I was a little underpowered for all that “perceived cool”. I felt a little like a Poser. One of my favorite things about the scooter was it had an automatic start and clutch. No kickstart, shifting or talent required. Now, if I could just lay aside my fear of big trucks and unattractive smashed helmet hair when I got to work. Ya, a bad girl I wasn’t. I can be more honest with myself 25 years later. Eventually, I learned to navigate the scooter and boulevards with confidence and could whiz in and out of So-Cal traffic from my home in Mission Viejo, to the swanky beaches on highway 101; and do it all with a detached casualness that added a cool sophistication (in my mind).
As life’s events would have it, long about the time I grew into my ‘devil-make-hay’ youthful swagger, I moved back to the rain of Oregon and shelved my little independence maker. I took her out in the summer evenings, but since she topped out at 55 mph on flat ground and I lived in the hilly Willamette valley I didn’t feel safe. Then came babies over the next 10 years, and with a new infusion of responsibility, I didn’t feel right about risking my life for the sake of adventure with three little ones counting on me. I still felt ultra ‘UN-mom’ and a little racy when I pulled the sheet off of her and would turn her engine over. We still had our secret kizmit. That headlight would pop up with a Kah-link, and with that sound, it seemed my youthful passion would click into the top gear memory banks of yesterday. She was still my quiet, sexy, eternally youthful alter-ego, ready to live a little closer to the edge of danger and take me with her.
As calendar pages turned and years crept into the space where summer rides used to reside, I knew it was time to give her new wings. She needed, no she deserved to have a life I couldn’t give her. It was time to adopt her out. Craigslist classifieds.
It was an ad that my understanding and car-speak literate husband wrote for me, but as I read it, it read like a fact sheet:
It seemed to me the photos and ad were listed for sale in the wrong category. This joy of my youth, my friend, my alter-ego, should have been categorized as a personal ad. It needed to show her heart not her cc’s. As I read and reread the facts, inside my heart I thought it should be rewritten. Something that would read a bit sappy, like an old Jimmy Buffet pop song lyric:
‘If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for write to me and escape’.
..That kind copy represented the Honda Elite I knew and loved.
Well, there were people that responded, but nobody was a fit adoptive adventure partner. About the time I got ready to just cover her up and keep her for myself a man called. He seemed to me to be a bit brash, demanding and he wanted to have her for less than her value. But you know what? He was just the right fit. He was a man of gray, but with a vibrant spirit for life. An energetic and sharp man who was a world traveler and former ski instructor. He oozed life from behind the wrinkles of age in his strong hands. They would age together and she would make them both feel the winds of adventure again.
As we left the DMV where we met him and transferred adoption papers, I waved goodbye. Mr.Former Ski Instructor looked up about then and thought I was waving good bye to him; he waved back energetically with a confident and engaging smile. He will never know I was waving goodbye with a teary smile to the last of an old dream…and hello to the first leg of a new adventure of my own. Hello leg two. I open my hand and release a little scooter of my youth so I can embrace the bigger dream of Vintage Roving.