I grew up smallest in my class. Being the little guy came with a slew of problems, the worst being the target of the class bullies. Needless to say, 9 year-old me wasn’t a big fan of recess,
especially since I preferred drawing pictures and writing stories to organized sports. In fact, athletics was a struggle for this
skinny kid providing more fuel for the ire of the mean boys.
(and some girls ~ I have the scars to show for it…)
My moments of true happiness occurred riding solo on my purple Baycrest hi-rise bike. It had one speed, a banana seat, and the crank creaked when you pedalled hard. I would ride it all day, away from the projects where my immigrant family lived, through a paved path that crossed the hydro field. Taking this path flat out, feeling the wind in my hair, whistling in my ears as I sped to no destination in particular.
How I loved that bike. On 2, I left behind the taunts and fists of the bullies.
Pedalled away from the pressures of getting good grades, and from the rough-and-tumble existence that came with the everyday in an assisted-housing neighbourhood.
On 2, I found me.
Fast-forward three-odd decades and the skinny kid was all grown-up, with a career in design being his everyday. My purple Baycrest was a distant memory, left behind by adulthood,
replaced by responsibilities…and bills, bills, bills of all kinds.
I was no longer bullied, but the drudgery of everyday life became a new challenge.
I now had a big-boy 21-speed bicycle, but it was totally utilitarian – used to navigate the crazy downtown maze to get to work and back.
As an emerging photographer, I realized that I needed a more
efficient way, though equal in utility to get around the urban
tangle of Toronto to photo gigs. I Iooked into getting a small scooter – nimble in traffic, with the advantage of free street parking.
Settling on a rickety 150cc scoot, hitting the streets for the first time gave me a pleasant surprise.
As I built up speed, the wind in my hair and whistle in my ears brought back the good memories and feelings of freedom that I associated with my purple bicycle. It was back – the peaceful bliss of being solo on on two wheels. The buzz of the motor
replaced the creak of the crank, but nevertheless it was back!
Happiness. Big ear-to-ear grin.
Another few years pass, and I’ve graduated to a full-sized motorcycle, faster, more powerful and providing me with the freedom the open road brings. Now I create pictures and write stories about motorcycling and am a part of a community of enthusiastic riders.
Most importantly, it all can be distilled into that feeling.
Of bliss. Wind-in-hair. Whistle-in-ears.
On 2, I’ve found me again.