Live to write. Write to live.

I started writing a blog for a few reasons. 1) I love to type. 2) I love words. 3) I love telling stories. I love reading and writing in general. I think I was the only person in my 7th grade English class who loved diagramming sentences. I remember the excitement I felt walking into the classroom and seeing blank diagrams on the chalkboard just waiting to be filled in. Oh boy! Today was the day! But back to writing. Linking words together into sentences that describes something that someone can see in THEIR mind just blows MY mind. Pink baby elephants rolling in a field of white flowers. You couldn’t help it. You just mentally pictured it.

I have a lot of respect for people who keep journals. Take Laura Ingalls Wilder, for instance. She turned the journals she wrote into an entire collection of beloved children’s books. Of course, I read all of them and nerded completely out to the point I wore an effing sunbonnet around like a complete nut. Remind me to tell you the story of the sunbonnet and Holly Hobby t-shirt sometime. But I digress.

LIW was the OG of storytelling and it’s thanks to those journals. LIW not only inspired me to dress like I had just hopped out of a time machine, but she inspired me to write. I wanted a diary. But longhand is super-hard for an undiagnosed ADHD-er whose brain goes nine times faster than their hand can keep up with a pen. So my diary was filled with sentences missing words, words missing letters, and scratched out misspellings all over each page. My diary was a wreck. Plus I felt like a weirdo writing things in a diary that only I was supposed to read. “Dear Diary, Today I …..” Wait. Wasn’t I the “I”? Should I be writing to myself? “Dear Roxie, Today you …..” Wait. Am I writing to my future self? Or to myself now? Or should I just be jotting down things of importance? I asked for a diary almost every year for Christmas and every year I got frustrated at the messy pages and lack of commitment and would throw it in the trash a few months in. Boy, do I regret that now. What I wouldn’t give to have a look back into a day in the life of my little self.

So what does all this have to do with anything? I mentioned briefly in my last post that I had shut down my first few blogs because I was afraid of being found out or suffering repercussions from others who didn’t agree with what I wrote. And although I didn’t shut down THIS blog, I stopped posting in it. And shortly after that, I began shutting down all of my social media accounts. At first it was really liberating. I wasn’t as tied to my phone and was living more in the moment. But then I began to miss writing. I pulled out my laptop and started pouring my thoughts out into Word documents. Not the same – even though I enjoyed typing more than writing. I still felt like I was writing a Dear Diary column with a readership of one. What I missed, dear reader, was YOU. I love sharing my words and thoughts. I love when I connect with someone and make them smile or laugh. Or know that maybe I’ve made someone’s day a bit brighter or helped someone feel like they aren’t going through something alone.

The other thing I’ve figured out is that this blog is my therapy. If something is bothering me or I need to work through issues, I need to get it out of my head by writing it here. And what’s been churning around in my storm of a brain for the last few weeks is how much I’ve missed social media. I can’t believe I just admitted that. I dropped off social media because (I know now) that I was hiding. Hiding from people who hurt me, judged me and hated me. But I have met a great group of people who I want to share my life with more than I want to hide from my old life. So I bit the bullet and opened up Facebook and Instagram again. And realized how much I had missed out on while I was gone. Friends got engaged and married. Babies were born. Spectacular meals had been eaten! And I had missed out on all of it! Talk about regret. My fear of being confronted or being made fun of by a few had caused me to miss out on so much.

I’m getting REALLY tired of learning from my mistakes. So one thing I’m going to rectify before it becomes another mistake is to stop referring to the parts of my life as my old-life and my new-life. It’s just my life. There are a lot of chapters, and they are all mine, even if some of them were hard to get through. It freaks me out a little bit to see some faces on social media that I didn’t think I’d see again and I’m trying to work through my feelings instead of running. But I want to finish my story on my terms. And with people who mean more to me than they know. Yes, in your book of life you get to be the main character, but there wouldn’t be a story if there weren’t other characters involved. Those are the real heroes of my story… the ones who support me, forgive me and most of all love me.


Ride in Peace

Last weekend when Harley and I went out for a ride, we were hoping to see some of our riding friends we haven’t seen since last fall.  As you all know, winter seemed to last forever and it was followed by a cold and wet spring, so we haven’t ridden much since last fall and were anxious to get out and see familiar faces and share some new stories.

One of my favorite things about riding is the people we meet along the way and the connections we have made with others we normally would have never known.  Bikers and riders come from all walks of life but we all have one thing in common … the motorcycle.  If you’ve got one it’s because you love it.  And you love riding it.  And you love talking about it with others who have one too.

It’s such a great feeling to come in from a hot, sweaty ride into a cool, dark bar and belly up to get an ice cold drink.  And then the conversations begin. Sometimes it’s just us and the bartender and other times it’s a mixed bag of bikers, weekend riders and locals.  We have met some super cool people because of the bike and I am proud to call them my friends.

We met Tophat a few years ago.  He roared into a local bike night with loud pipes and a crazy getup.  As he blasted by where Harley and I were sitting, we both did a double-take.  Me:  Was that guy wearing a top hat?  Harley:  Was that a skeleton tied to the back?

That would be a yes on both counts.  Not only was he wearing a leather top hat, but the skeleton sitting on the back of his bike had on a long black wig and was wearing stilettos.  To complete the look, on the back of his vest was a huge patch of a skeleton wearing a top hat.  GOALS.

We decided then and there that we could never … ever … be as cool as this guy.

Not long after that night, we mentioned to someone that we had seen a dude riding a Harley and wearing a top hat and they said that we had seen Tophat.  Everyone knew Tophat.  And everyone who knew him liked him.  He was funny as $hit.  How do I know, you ask?  Because we met him.

He was standing next to me in line one night and I thought, “O. Magawd.  I’m standing next to Tophat!”  So I looked kind of sideways at him and said (in a very Napoleon Dynamite way), “I like your hat.”  And he turned to me with a huge grin and said, “Thanks!”  I motioned for Harley to come over and we started a conversation that has lasted off and on for a few years.

You always knew when Tophat was pulling up because of his unmistakable silhouette.  Not to mention the skeleton.  And you always knew when Tophat was around, because his larger than life personality had everyone around him laughing and joking around.  He basically caused a ruckus.

So when we were out for our maiden voyage of the year Sunday Funday ride last weekend we were really hoping to see Tophat. We don’t always see everyone every time we are out riding, but we looked for him at each stop nonetheless.  Next week, we told ourselves… we will see him next week.

Next week will never come.  We found out a few days ago that our friend passed away on Tuesday morning.  Tophat’s real name was Justin.  He had a life, friends and family who knew him so much better that we ever could.  I don’t mean to diminish their loss by writing about my own sadness.  I hope that they know how much we enjoyed his company and always looked forward to seeing him when we were out and about.

I’ve got to provide a disclaimer here for the picture.  I did not take it and I do not know the person who did, but I found it on Facebook and it basically summed up Tophat as I knew him and I wanted to share it.

Next weekend we will all gather to honor Tophat’s life.  Harley and I will forever remember how happy he made us that first night we met him because the coolest biker we’d ever seen welcomed us and made us feel like we were part of the local biking community.  Tophat, you will be missed more than you know.  Ride in peace, brother.