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Notes from the Road - May 24, 2023
There is so much I want to share with you that I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just begin. Derrick and I embarked on our motorcycle poetry tour a week ago and in that time have covered more than a thousand miles on the Harley. My body aches from long stretches of riding, but I feel so charged up and happy with the adventure so far—it’s been everything I hoped it would be.
In previous posts, I shared some of the things that I love most about being on a motorcycle: how it feels like the closest thing to flying, how the wind whips your entire body, how the smells of nature engulf you. But there are some other things I’ve noticed this time around that I didn’t the last time Derrick and I did a poetry bike tour almost ten years ago. For the first few days on the bike, I felt a strong urge to capture every little thing on my cell phone camera, like recording the moments along the way was more important than wholly experiencing them.
When something special happens in my everyday life, I often briefly disengage from being fully in the moment so that I can capture it in a photo or video. On a motorcycle though, you can’t really look at your phone or even talk to your riding partner most of the time. The inability to snap a photo whenever I want has reminded me that not all great lived experiences need to be archived or recorded or saved in a tangible way. There is something beautiful and powerful about living fully in the present in a world that is constantly telling us to commodify or capture each moment, as if the experience will somehow mean less if it isn’t documented.
I wanted to capture the moment when Derrick’s gloved hand snuck behind his back as he drove, carefully slipping me one M&M at a time from his sweater pocket. I wanted to capture the moments of childlike enthusiasm and goofiness; how every time we crossed a state line, Derrick would kick his legs out from the bike, honk the horn for far, far too long, and throw his fist in the air, screaming, “LET’S PARTY!” I wanted to capture the many moments at countless takeout food spots and coffee shops when Derrick would place our order under the name Emily Quartermaine just to hear “Order for Emily Quartermaine!” yelled out when our order was ready. (I hate you, Derrick.) I wanted to capture the bikers we passed who we might’ve had nothing in common with except for our respect for the road and adventure. I wanted to capture the unspoken camaraderie of the two-finger biker wave—a hand gesture bikers use when passing each other on the road to signify respect and wishes for a safe journey.
I have no pictures of these moments, but they will live on in my mind, just the way they were meant to.
Last night, we performed in Brooklyn at Union Hall to a sold-out crowd filled with many friends and family members. Today, we leave for our final two shows of tour; tonight we’ll be in Providence, RI and tomorrow, Manchester, NH. As we finish out the tour, I wanted to share some pictures of moments that I did manage to capture over the past week.
Cheers from the road,