I nervously but happily wend my way down I-75, south, heading into Ohio. I have a couple of ramps and a box of straps stowed in the back of the pickup, lent to me by my buddy just before I left town. I’m on a mission, and it gives me a sense of confidence where I have often had little.
I stop for gas in a place strange to me. Hopping out of the truck, I realize I don’t need a jacket and there is no snow anywhere.
I negotiate the winding multi-lane pathway that is Dayton, and then just south of there, roll off on the exit and head for the truck stop.
Sure enough, there he is. My son stands larger than life, clad neck to foot in a yellow jumpsuit near his motorcycle. He has ridden it up from south Florida. It was one cold trip, and I can easily see the cold is not out of him. He has the Florida tan, but his young face is grizzled with the ride.
His numerous bags and various pieces of equipment are spread out in a long line next to the bike. He arrived about 15 minutes ahead of me, and used the time to unload the bike while he tried to warm up. There is his tent, his camp stove, bags of tools, helmet, gloves. An umbrella. I guess you just never know when you’re going to need an umbrella.
I pull up with the truck and jump out to get him inside my arms. This whole cross country motorcycle thing is hard on a mom, you know. And here it is winter, and no one sees motorcycles on a good day, much less when no one really expects to see one at all.
People are looking at the small spectacle of his journey. One gnarly aging man hovers close, drawn into the experience as if by a magnet. He sports a smile, a work jacket that lets me know his name is John, and a black cap that announces that his boss is Jesus.
We set the ramps up, and between my son and John, the big bike is easily rolled up into the back of my pickup and set at an angle to fit. The box of straps is broken open, and the bike is tied down. I go in to the truck stop to fuel up with coffee, and then we head north to Michigan where we are expecting rain and freezing rain after the heavy snows we have lately received. Our new friend John gives us a happy nod as we pull out.
And then there’s about 5 hours of unadulterated one-on-one time, learning again who this amazing person is, who he is becoming. It’s both honest and brash, and gentle and tentative as we tread into each other’s lives again.
He puts his favorite CD’s in, and points out his favorite songs. He revels in the warmth of the truck after the many hours of frigid riding he’s been doing. He’s excited about where the road’s going. And so am I.
What a gift. I am startled when I look at him, to see the adult in his face at the same time I can still see the child. What a gift to have this opportunity to discover him again where he’s at on life’s road – to see him and share in this very moment. I am continually astounded and privileged to be witness to the unfolding of my children – to glimpse the soul inside of them. Simply amazing.