This column is particularly difficult to write for this issue. We only last week got back from the Smoke Out West, the Long Road 2 and the incredible Smoke Out Eleven. Add to that, my marriage ended abruptly, and so there are all the legal, financial and emotional problems associated with that clouding my mind as I try and scrape 101 together in not much time at all. The 4th of July holiday didn't help much, and add to that I don't think the readers of this fine publication want to hear a bunch of “woe is me" whining in this column. Fine! I can tell you are a bunch of heartless bastards, but maybe I can direct this to some sort of motorcycle content.
When you're in a marriage, there's always the chance something will go wrong. Who's fault it may or may not have been is irrelevant most of the time (Michigan is a “no fault” state), but that doesn't stop your prized possessions, namely your chopper(s), from becoming mere chess pieces in the legal chess game that ensues.
I'm not pretending to be some kind of legal expert by any stretch. There's always the chance that one of the parties can find an aggressive lawyer that will take someone to the cleaners and leave them on the street with just the clothes they put on at the beginning of the day. Often, the attitude of “take it all, I just want out” will prevail, although I presume most chopper jockeys would exclude their ride if they said that... or would they? It's easy to get strapped in tightly to the emotional rollercoaster, scream like a little girl and forsake everything just to get to the end of the ride. The overpowering feeling that the last however many years have been a total failure is like a dead weight on your chest. Friends and family will “take sides”, people you knew and liked suddenly become arch enemies and even your closer friends will avoid you, probably because they just don't know what to say, or if they should say anything at all.
All I'm getting at here is; don't give up the ship. Don't just sell off the bikes to finance some legal maneuvering; you'll regret it, trust me. I know sometimes there's just no choice in the matter, and that really sucks, but you need to retain the attitude that life goes on and you are who you are. There's plenty of blame and guilt to go around, but after some time, it tends to fade.
This is the second time me and my 1971 Triumph and my 1998 Shovelhead have been through this. Fortunately, the first time, the ex realized life would be way simpler for her if she just let me keep them. It's about all I got to keep from that one. This time? Well, it's still to be determined, I guess. It's too early, and the legal wrangling has not yet begun at the time of this writing. My guess is that they will not be added to the chess pawns. Yes, there are higher priorities; my thirteen year old daughter for one. She is the product of a previous marriage and will stay with me, so I have to concentrate on that. She's been staying with relatives for a couple of weeks while I was on the road, and it has worked out well. She'll be coming back to a house that is almost devoid of furniture, with no pots or pans, bowls, silverware etc., but material things like that are almost meaningless, just an inconvenience.
This kind of thing will let you know who your friends are though. Hammer, for instance, brought a pile of silverware over the other day, just stuff he had laying around, but it's good to know that not everyone hates you.
One of the big things that brought all this to light was the realization that my life is more than half over, and it's just plain stupid to waste years not being as happy as you can be. Maybe there's an afterlife, or maybe Hammer is right and this is all there is. Either way, you gotta be happy and enjoy life. If you're not, then it's up to you to change things until you are.
This isn't my first Long Road. I know things will be fine. I have great friends, the best damn job in the world, great kids and my bikes. I'm still getting attacks of feeling like a worthless bastard, but I know they will pass.