Going on one final joy ride

August 14th, 2013, 3pm

It was 34°C with clouds and visibility OK. The breeze was light.

In reality, I couldn’t believe that my parents had finally caved. The oversized seat and the alien rubber handle bars and the wide base where i uncomfortably rested my legs and the exhaust fumes that made my bicycle seem like a toy - no, none of these were responsible for the dreamlike state I was in. It was that single fact that my parents now seemed open to the idea that their son, in their own words, rested atop a death trap.

I turned the handlebar and the engine sputtered, slowly propelling me forward. I turned it a little more and before long was speeding down a small side street in Mitaka. This changes everything, I thought.

17 years later I was back in Japan. My parents were retiring next spring and now going through the long, painful process of figuring out what to do with all their belongings that they can’t bring back to the U.S. It had been decided that the moped, which my dad still rode to his university every now and then, would be donated along with our car to our mechanic Ebisu-san, a sweet old man who had been very kind to our family.

“Take it over to Ebisu,” my dad had asked, while I was staying with them. The thing was dusty and the underbelly was caked with grease. It was missing a mirror and the side was scraped from the time I let Henry Buckley ride it around our school courtyard.

“We’ll start in Tokyo and slowly make our way down to Kyushu,” Alex had said excitedly. “Yea, and we’ll ride till the sun sets and then find a place to camp out.” It was the story of our dreams and we spent countless nights and endless hours talking about our journey. Our bikes tentatively - hopefully - waited, and waited and waited.

I sped past Ebisu’s and made a left turn, unsure of where I was headed. At that moment my destination seemed meaningless. If I could stay on that bike just a little longer, I felt that I would be able to figure out whether or not, in fact, it had changed everything.

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Johnny Strategy

スプタマ編集長。Editor of www.spoon-tamago.com. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Tokyo, now come full circle.

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