There are a few things I always swore I’d never do. Eat pickles on purpose. Get a tattoo. Ride a motorcycle. I have very good reasons for not doing these things (they’re disgusting; I’m really sensitive to pain; I like being alive).
I did the third one. Which you know, since you read the title of this post.
What you may not know is that I was more nervous than before riding the tallest roller coaster in the world. That I put the helmet on and felt claustrophobic, not because it was suffocating me but because it made me think about being enclosed in a coffin, which I thought was a distinct possibility for the near future. That when the motor started I felt my heart try to escape from my chest and the impending danger. That with every bump I imagined being thrown off the bike and crushed against the pavement. That each curve brought up the image of twisted limbs and smashed bones. That for the entire ride I went over in my mind how upset my parents would be to have to attend my funeral instead of picking me up at the airport the next day.
What I didn’t know–what I couldn’t have predicted–was that despite the very real terror I experienced from riding a machine I suspect was never meant to carry humans, I also sort of understood the appeal.
Because while racing through the streets of New York (or, you know, probably just going the speed limit), what I didn’t anticipate was the feeling of the mid-October wind as it rushed by without a barrier. The satisfying realization that I was a part of the sparkling city in a way all those other poor souls trapped behind glass would never experience. The freedom of nothing interfering between me and the late-night world. The comforting squeeze on my knee as the driver reached back to reassure me. The exhilarating relief every time we sped up without flying off. The thrill of doing something I swore I’d never do.
Were these surprising details enough to make me stop being afraid of things I can’t control and start embracing adventure without extensive analysis and worry first?
I mean…well, I’m still the same person I was before I rode the motorcycle. But I did ride it, and I do think it changed me a little. Example: when I told my mom about it and she asked, in a horrified tone, “You’re not planning on doing this often, are you?” I didn’t immediately say no.