My friend cocked her head sideways and stared at me from across the table.
“Everything you just said was a contradiction.” She said. I love it when an intelligent and attractive woman calls me out on my shit, so I smiled at her. “I mean, I get that it’s complicated, but, after everything, would you kiss her? Again? …Really?!”
“It’s pretty simple, actually,” I answered. “I’m an imperfect man, and she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out. Sometimes I like to let myself indulge in small pleasures even if I know they’re bad for me.”
“But why?” she asks.
“It’s like riding motorcycles. You know it’ll kill you, but there you are: going faster, and faster, until the thrill of your speed overcomes the fear of your death.”
“So it’s life or death now?” She quipped sardonically through a grin. “This is the 21st century. Just swipe right until you get a match.”
“Where? On my couch maybe, warm and cozy and safe, waiting for life to happen? On my ass hoping that Amazon will deliver Wonder Woman to my mailbox? Not my style.” I pointed to my motorcycle outside with my index finger, and then closed my fist and made a revving motion. That’s my style. She nodded.
“I think living, really living, begins at the edge of your comfort zone. I think sometimes people are afraid to just buy the ticket, take the ride and figure out the rest when they get there. I think we need to remember that we are not descended of fearful men.”
And there it was. The realization that over the years, in the words of others I had found the music of my soul. The realization that I hadn’t said a single original thing. Everything was borrowed, paraphrased, or else bastardized in some other way, and it became a part of me. But my friend hadn’t noticed, so screw it, what’s one or two more quotes? I’m this far in.
“The way I see it, anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing at least once. Every now and then it’s good to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and trying not to get arrested. I wrote about that on my site once.”
She made a face.
“She gets your blood racing?” she asked.
“She does.” I answered.
“So you would kiss her again?” she asked curiously, with heavy emphasis on the would.
“I would kiss her again, if she’d let me. If only just once.” But as soon as the words left my mouth I realized that I was far more convinced on the outside than I was on the inside.
There’s a reason I don’t do morphine or cocaine. It isn’t the trip or the crash that scares me. It’s the fear that I’ll absolutely love it. It’s the fear that I’ll love her. But I’m not afraid to love her. I’m just afraid of everything that comes with loving her.
“What are you thinking about over there?” my friend asks from across the table. My mind returns to the cafe and the voice in front of me.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should stay away.” I lean back in my chair, away from the table, to catch my breath.
Outside the sun dances on the reflection of my motorcycle’s chrome exhaust pipes. Hours earlier I had spent some time evaluating my life. I took a good hard look at myself, and at my bike. We had both aged. The bike with a few more scratches. The man with a few more grey hairs. It made me think, you know, of a lie I heard once. “With age comes wisdom” it said. But here I am, a young man starting to grey, ever more tempted to make my same old mistakes.
After all of the lessons learned the wrong ways, all of the tears, all of the fights, and all of the white nights. Yes, I would kiss her again, if she’d let me. If only just once. Where would the ride take me from there? That’s the part I don’t know.
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
– Hunter S. Thompson