Random Thoughts

Larry's Motorcycle

I just had one of the simplest and most linear dreams I have ever remembered.

When I was in high school, I had a friend who lived in the neighborhood. His name was Larry. He was just a little taller than me, and a bit lanky. He was the last of his mothers children by her first husband, the eldest few of whom I never even met. His two younger brothers were both clearly the product of her current marriage, to a rather large, barrel chested man.

Unlike white collar, college bound me, Larry was what you might call "salt of the earth." He got high, drank, had girlfriends. He survived school, rather than innocently learned there like I did. His family was a bit rougher around the edges than mine. I remember a time, late one spring, or was it early one fall, when Larry was "grounded." I would go over each evening and we would talk, about what I do not remember, and throw a softball back and forth. I suppose those were the lazy, hazy, summer days of youth, filled with the sort of aimless times friends will enjoy without knowing why.

There was a time, I suppose one of many times, that he ran away, when we "took him in" for three months, with the blessing of some sort of local youth authority. He lived with us, sleeping in my room, going to school, for that time. As I think about it, I realize that it was the only time in my life that a roommate of some sort was not a total... nightmare.

There was another "interlude" in his life when he stayed at the local "group home" for a few months. It was just a place for kids whose family life for one reason or another was not working - runaways, whether due to misunderstanding, abuse, or lack of nurturing skills on the part of their parents. Kids with tough lives and no real dreams beyond surviving. I visited him there once or twice - for some reason we were allowed to take a walk up the highway, and he bought some cigarettes at a local store, of the sort that would come to be known as "convenience stores" now that mom and pop have so little to do with that industry.

I have no idea where Larry is these days, or what he is doing. His next youngest brother Tom stopped by a year or two ago to say "hi," and seemed well and happy... the youngest of the family, John, died in an accident a number of years ago. I'm not really sure how I found out, but it was well after the fact - I cannot even clearly recall whether it was a car, a motorcycle, or a snowmobile which bore him in his last moments.

In my dream, I am in the parking lot behind the high school. I see a motorcycle, which I know, in that "dream way" that we know things, is Larry's. In real life he did not have a motorcycle...

I cannot remember why, but I decide to take it for a drive. I have never driven a motorcycle - and in my dream I had to cope with this - I know, sort of, what to do to make the engine go faster, and that there is a foot lever to shift gears. In my dream, lacking the knowledge of riding, I kept mixing up how I had decided the hand levers worked - the left one was always a brake, but the right one was sometimes the clutch and sometimes another brake - but luckily it was always what I thought it was.

I explicitly remember struggling to get the thing moving, and clumsily getting into second gear to keep the revs down a bit. I remember each turn - each intersection as I took the simple route to my street, which was nearby.

My street was off a main road leading out of town, but still close in to the center - maybe a mile from the bandstand, at most. The street followed the course of a small, weedy river for half a mile or so. This gave it some nice, folksy curves, with the river on the left and well spaced houses built in many different eras on the right. Eventually the road turns to the right, and at some point changes into Larry's street. Larry's street is much more of a recent "subdivision" style of development. It heads straight back towards the main road, with only a gentle hill at the "away from the highway" end to break up its railroad track like monotony. While a couple of the houses are unique, most of them are built from one of about three floorplans.

I rode the motorcycle down my street, not going very fast. The stress of shifting back and forth between first and second was enough confusion for me - I'm sure it would be difficult in real life, but here I was dreaming and learning was difficult. As the road curved around, for some reason I decided not to go as far as Larry's house, but turn around in someone's driveway and head back.

The dream took over for a moment as I reached my old house, which would now have been on the left... if it hadn't been partially torn down and replaced with what (I knew since it was a dream) were two small water treatment lagoons, emptying into the sluggish river. I dismounted and looked around at the radically changed terrain I knew so well from my youth... I started to cry, sobbing, at the disruption in my memories. I looked at the culvert that drained the lagoons, fascinated. I turned my attention to the muddy, partially finished hollows in the ground that would form the basins of this "thing."

I remember looking around in the remaining wreckage of the house, which was about as far into "dreamland" as I got - it was a mess, and there were some strange gas heater type devices (which were certainly not in the original) that I contemplated salvaging, but gave up on as a lost cause.

And then, abruptly, I fired up the bike again and continued along the road, piloting in my clumsy way back over to the school. This time I took the "alternate" route, the way we would walk to school, which took a small dead end street on the other side of the main road and the river, into a church parking lot and up onto a small field before cutting through a line of rough trees and brush to enter the back side of the schools playing fields.

Quite shortly, I found myself back in the parking lot, and came upon Larry and some other friend of his, talking or something. I parked the motorcycle and walked over to them... I remember now that I said a few words, but I cannot remember what they were. It was, however, a friendly, happy greeting, a warm moment... the sun was shining, the dust was summery...

I awoke, disturbed by some noise here in the day world, and just made myself keep the phrase "Larry's Motorcycle" in my head so I would remember the dream somehow as the day progressed. I did, so here it is.

11/16/01 - 1 AM

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© Huw Powell

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