Saturday night I was out of popcorn, a necessity for watching a good movie. It required a quick trip to the truck stop for popcorn and a cold Coke. I left the house right before sundown. A short distance after entering I 70, I saw two motorcyclists along the shoulder, one poor guy pushing his motorcycle uphill, and it appeared to be a Harley. It seemed impossible to me that anyone would be strong enough to push an eight hundred pound machine up that long hill.
It was at the transition point in the evening, neither day nor night, when I find it difficult to see. It was dangerous for the two men going so slowly along the shoulder with only a single motorcycle taillight to warn oncoming drivers. I sped to the next exit and came back around behind them. I started the emergency flashers on the truck to provide the men with a bit more protection in the heavy interstate traffic.
Luckily, the problem was no fuel, not broken machinery. I offered to go for fuel but they were expecting one of their friends to arrive with gas momentarily. Then I offered to go for water. I did not ask how far that guy had been pushing his bike, but the battery was too low to power the lights by then. I would have needed to drink a gallon of water, but both politely declined the offer of water.
They were young men who appeared to be in their early twenties, about the same age as my son. Their license plates showed they were from Illinois. I asked if they had been to Sturgis, and they both broke into wide smiles, nodding yes. That made me laugh. Men love that crazy Sturgis!
I said I would wait with the flashers on until they were on their way. They sincerely thanked me for stopping, and just then the third man arrived with gas in a Sprite bottle. In no time at all, the three bikes roared to life and those young men rode off into the hot Kansas night, gaining speed and distance and freedom.
Right then, as I listened to those Harley engines traveling away from me, I wished with all of my heart that I was young again. If I could just go home, climb on Ol' Blue again, and be young, strong, with all these past years before me rather than behind, still full of possibility and potential. I would not have followed those young men away into the night. I would have turned Ol' Blue west toward Colorado and rode away from Topeka and Kansas and the job I have stayed with for over three decades. I would ride away from bad memories and mighty disappointments and ride toward new places, new people, and an entirely different life.
I sat there for just a moment as the engine sounds were lost to distance and the roar of traffic. No matter how poignantly lost youth calls, time mercifully takes it all, even our regrets.