9/11 and A Biker’s Journey Home

This story begins at a time before motorcycles or marriage had entered my life. I was an 18 year old who’d just recently completed my military training to become a medic and had been stationed at the most unlikely of places for an E-2, The Pentagon. There were times the “mosquito wings” sitting on my collar garnered more attention than that of higher ranks. This wasn’t necessarily a positive thing, it wasn’t the greatest assignment for the up and coming enlisted soldier. There was a lot of visibility and little in the ways of soldiering. I lucked out at having the mentorship of some awesome NCOs and officers. I remember that day well, I still refer to it as Tuesday. I remember walking the corridor and the news screens blasting with coverage of NYC. Our head nurse that day clung to the radio we used to communicate medical emergencies in the building and with a look of grave concern stated, “We need to start evacuating this building.” This prior enlisted nurse who was now a CPT, was wise. I was not. My foolish response statement of arrogance is something I’ve regretted for years, “Haha, no one is stupid enough to attack The United States Department of Defense!” Did I mention I was young and foolish? Anyway, we all know what happened next. On that day I learned why the Army trained us like they do. What had always seemed to be senseless barking of commands had conditioned me to switch over to autopilot under stress. Check the feelings at the door and do your job, this is what it’s all about. We executed our duties as we responded to victims in the wake of the attack. My roommates at the time were Army lab techs and they jumped into action transporting emergency supplies and helping the wounded evacuate.

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” Adlai Stevenson

It was shortly after this when the dust and ash had settled that several of our first responders were taken to meet the firefighters and first responders in NYC. Many of their crews were still on rotating shifts attempting to pull bodies from the wreckage. They were different people than me, big city folks & here I was this little country girl from Alabama, but we were the same in that we were Americans and we wanted to help our fellow man. Maybe that’s why I like motorcycle culture so much, bikers are a diverse group of people with a shared love for helpfulness and freedom. Through this chaos I met the hubster. He, also being a soldier was deployed to D.C. in the aftermath to assist in security operations. I’ll never forget that initial meeting, he was wearing a NASCAR t-shirt tucked in with no belt when he approached me and my roommate who were dressed in our best ladies night out attire. I remember thinking, “What? Is this guy serious?” and yet, I was intrigued.

“Confidence is a stain ya can’t wipe off…” -Lil’ Wayne

NASCAR t-shirt guy had confidence, lots of it. This confidence and conviction of character would prove useful in the years, deployments, and trials to come. We planned a beautiful wedding that never happened b/c Afghanistan was waiting so we hopped on down to the courthouse in Savannah, GA & tied the knot (we realized we were both unintentionally wearing all black on this day, haha). I, like other family members left behind, pushed through the pain of loneliness & it wasn’t always pretty. As babies came and war raged on my military career came to an end. My role changed from soldier to mom, & that was just one of the many hats you have to wear when your spouse deploys. I was one of the blessed ones, the hubster came home after each deployment. He was a little worn, a little jumpy, a little deaf (like legit, one ear is like at half hearing, I now think he uses this to his advantage at night when I ramble on), but he came home. You may be wondering how does this tie into motorcycles??? Well stay with me, I watched motorcycles become an outlet for the hubster and other vets like him. It drowned out the noise & the chaos. It’s not a drug, far from it, it focuses your attention in a way that clears your thoughts. Clarity in chaos. He would come home after a ride tired and emotionally recharged at the same time. I didn’t understand this paradox. I understood the chaos life was hammering our family with and I was slightly manic. I had difficulty understanding his cathartic process and how the bike was part of that. Looking back I am so thankful that hubster had patience bringing me into his world of bikes and how it has now become our world of bikes. I am thankful that he had this outlet to throw himself into as he readjusted to life at home. Before my transition to rider I criticized what I didn’t understand, now I totally get it. I have also learned to keep learning and that criticisms and judgments are best put on hold b/c they’re often misleading.

A person of understanding delights in wisdom. -Proverbs 10:23

Despite my catchy blog page name, I’m not the most religious of people. Oh I was raised in a southern Baptist home where Jesus is Lord and Paul Bear Bryant was one of His anointed (Roll Tide), but I haven’t always walked that straight and narrow. I’m thankful for God’s grace, the ability to grow, and motorcycles among other things. There’ll be good days and bad ones ahead and in the bad ones I have found that a little prayer, patting my dog on the head, and an afternoon ride on the bike make the bad days a little better.Pain is a process and it can be one heck of a teacher. Whatever your process of dealing with it, remember that life is a gift, tomorrow is a new day, and a little wind therapy may just be what the doctor ordered 🙂

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