South I headed alone on my motorcycle. I needed to clear my head of this world and had enough cash for two weeks.
I was a left leaning non-practicing New York Jew. I was heading to Georgia where my father lived, then after, I’d be riding through other “southern” states like Alabama and Kentucky as I headed up through the Ohio River valley to my sister, then back home.
To be honest I was a little anxious about some of the areas I’d be riding through and sleeping in. “Man alone is easy prey.” Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies. And man alone on a motorcycle is even easier. Perhaps I would be indoctrinated into a clan or found dead in a farmer’s field or simply run off the road. These things have happened to others in the past. So I didn’t know what to expect.
After the visit with the old man in GA I headed northwest on state roads. It was raining in Kentucky and I parked under an overhang at a gas station to wait out the storm. I paid the forty-something skinny counter guy with the heavy southern accent. I nodded and didn’t want to give myself away.
I stood outside under the overhang sipping my hot coffee. He came out to smoke a cigarette and saw the license plate on the back of my loaded bike. I wanted to be anonymous riding through, but was no longer.
“You from New York?” I got tense at his inquiry and nodded slowly.
“No shit?” I guess they don’t get too many New Yorkers down there.
We started talking and the tension in my body eased.
I must’ve had four cups of coffee standing there talking to him.
“Git yurself some more.” He’d keep saying.
He told me about his family, gave me solid directions, about the upcoming town and some routes to avoid.
We weren’t northerner and southerner, just a couple of guys talking.
I learned on this trip that people generally just want to help, learn about others, and share about themselves.
Our conversation wasn’t political, or agenda based, and that is what I often find on the open road – people interested in each other. We are Americans, yes. But we are humans first. And humans are concerned with others, interested in who they are, where they came from, and well, where they’re going…