Tonight my kids asked to go back into my part of Nod, so we went into a memory from some time ago. One I look back on dearly. It was back when we lived in the Sierra hills and the summer air was  like the sweet warm heat from grandmas oven during a morning of cookie and pie baking. You could smell the warmth in the grass cooking in the summer sun. When the breezes come they are like a gentle hug. It is here that I took my Daughter and Son into Nod. It was time to visit the mountain summer afternoons, filled with golden light and free days filled with bicycles, drawing, and more importantly to visit Dad.

Let me explain. I really love to go fast... Ricky Bobby like. I have four pictures of my childhood that I rescued from my fathers tomb when he died. They were the only things I walked away with after that absolutely horrible event. The youngest one was me sitting on my dad's lap and driving a Go-Cart around a track at what was to me the greatest speed I had ever traveled. The look on my three year old face was bliss, free happiness. Do you remember feeling like that when you were 3? Do any of us?

Later he bought me a Go-Cart I remember loosing my front teeth slamming it around in a playground. This translated into Bicycles later. I was not the fastest kid on my feet. I was not athletic, I threw like a girl with a vision problem. However on my bike I was fast... So on my Bike I felt free.

 

My favorite thing at age 8 was my Royce Union Bicycle. I careened around everywhere I could on it and I felt like I was moving at light speed pumping my little legs as fast as I could. A human bullet sending clouds of dust everywhere. My favorite place to go was to push my bike up a hill near my house where my school was. It was a very steep very long hill. It was so tall it would take about 2 hours for my brother and I to push our Bikes up to the top.

Then we would play for a bit. Then... oh then it was time to go home, that was my favorite part. It was an old dirt road each pothole was so large it would turn into a mini ramp. Each bump was like dodging traffic as we hurdled down to our house at an unbelievable speeds. Han solo had nothing on me.

One day we put a ramp at the bottom of the hill in our drive way. It was 3 feet tall and made of tires and ply wood. Please notice I didn't say nales nor 2x4s in my young mind what we had was enough. The first time I shot down that hill and shot myself off the ramp I felt like I had wings. I flew thirty feet, or at least that's what it felt like to me.

BOOM! stuck the landing, and immediately back up the hill. Now the second attempt was not as... ahem Graceful. I do not recall what went wrong. I assume The ramp shifted a bit as I was going up its incline, and as a result my landing went bad. In the end I was bleeding, I had a rock firmly under my kneecap, and oddly a mother who forgot to ask me exactly what had gone wrong. As a result it never occurred to them that their son was doing what he was doing.

Lets fast forward a year. I am nine and my dad at this age has never let me win a single thing my whole life. Not a game of checkers, not a wrestling match, not a race down a hallway or an impromptu game of go fish. It for me was my ultimate goal to beat dad at something. Drawing didn't count he couldn't draw. I needed something else.

Eventually there was one of those perfect family days. The kind that begins with your dad home on a summer day. Nothing to do but enjoy being with his kids, and a Mom in a good mood with a picnic basket full of chicken and sweet summer peaches. All of us rode in the truck up to the school at my brother and My own's suggestion with the bikes in the back. We played for a couple of hours. My mind right now is filling with memories of them, this was before all of the addiction, it was before the loss of jobs, the pressure of the city, before all the yelling. At least before I noticed any of that.

 

I can remember them laughing right now. I remember them playing...

"Daddy, I miss grandpa."

"So do I..."

 

Okay now my dad challenged me to something at the top of that hill. He challenged me to a Race... YES!!!!! A RACE!!!!!

We started at the school which was at the top of another hill on top of the other hill. Bear with me I was eight.

"ON YOUR MARKS" Oh please please if there is any justice in this world let my feet move, let me please feel every bit as fast as I ever have... Let me win... PLLLLEASE!

"GET SET" I can look back at him right now and see him smiling, Hunched down over Stevie's new red BMX. He was smiling and he was playing. I miss him...

"GO!!!!!" BOOM a sonic wave came off as my silver streak left the start line front tire up in the air from the furious peddling as a dust cloud shoots in ever direction.

We corkscrewed around the School leaving a trail of our speed in our wake. Gravel careened behind me scattering in every direction as my speed continued to build. I was in the lead coming from the schools entry way. I can look back and see him leaning hard to his right trying to move his legs fast enough to catch his son on the silver Royce Union from HELL! In my ears I only hear the wind. It caresses my face as I cannonball down the familiar dirt road. My heart and lungs churning oxygen into power like a Supercharged Big Block pushing a muscle car and roaring its battle call.....

"I am winning!!!!!" Lightning was shooting out from my rims. I lept off the huge bumps in the road like a wild cat landing and churning the dirt up into clouds behind me. Each second more distance behind me as I pushed myself as far and as fast as I could. Oh the glory. The turn to hour house approached and I finally shot on to a huge wooden walking ramp in front of our house. I locked my rear brakes and slid sideways marking a huge victory streak in front of the house. Seconds later I was standing at the end of the ramp, and I was cheering at long last I had beaten dad at something.

"I BEAT DAD!!!!" oh the indescribably feeling of being the fastest... Eventually I saw him coming down the driveway and a second later my moms driving the truck right behind him. I remember he had dark sunglasses KD's on and a blue plad shirt that trailed behind him like a cape over a black Harley shirt that had the sleeves cut off.

"DAD! Did you see me?! Did you see me I beat y..."

"DAMN IT JAMIE!"

 

"Wait Daddy, he called you Jamie?" Bright brown eyes were staring up at me at my story's Crescendo.

"He did, only he and grandma get to call me that. No one else."

"Why?" Now James is wearily asking me questions too.

"When I was little I couldn't say James. It came out as Jamie"

"Daddy, I miss Grandpa Jim."

"So do I Porcupine."

"SON WHAT IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?" For a second I thought, maybe he was messing with me, but no. Apparently I had been clocked by the truck as moving faster then 55 mph. That was the speed of the truck I had beaten by thirty seconds or so. As a result my previous escapade with the home made jump ramp and resulting injury became very obvious to them all of the sudden. Within moments I was in my room and my bicycle was in a shed sentenced to a summer with no more lightning. Consequently I spent the summer bicycle-less. 

Two whole months grounded to my feet. Before one Wednesday I stole her out of the shed. On my own I went up to the school and sat at the top of the hill. It was late August. The afternoon was swaying back and forth on a breeze that I could feel on my shoulders. For a long moment I leaned my head downwards and breathed in the freedom again. 

Breathe...

I looked up staring down the hill at the distant dot that was the turn to my house. I could hear the dry grass shift in waves as the wind moved. One foot was on the petals the other keeping me up.

I beat him...

Feet down I was moving again. A shock-wave spreading out behind me pushing the trees around as I shot down the hill. Oh yessssss...

Then half way down Kachink... My chain was loose coming off the sprocket so consequentially I slid out of control. I got lucky though thereI was in a calm part of the road while I was slowing down.  For the next twenty minutes I was on the side of the road fixing my chain. Since My dad worked Monday-Friday in Nevada he never came home in the middle of the week. That is... Until today.

Then I could hear it. In the distance. I could hear one of my especially favorite sounds. I could hear thunder shaking the sky. I could hear the deep rumbling thumps of the pipes on his bike. From miles away it told me that my father had returned to our little valley. I struggled to set the chain as fast as I could as the sound drummed closer with no tools though it seemed like there was no hope.  At a certain point I gave up and tried to move the bicycle towards the brush, but I failed. I heard him stop behind me, rev the bike just a bit. At the time he road an Intruder. It was black had chrome everywhere.

"Son..." Rumble Rumble Rumble

"Yeah dad..."

"What do you think you are doing?" Rumble rumble rumble

"I... I just needed to ride Dad." I can see him

"Take your time getting your ride down the hill." Rumble Rumble Rumble.

I can still remember seeing him ride back down the hill. I wanted to ride beside him so badly. Soooooooo badly.

I lost her for an extra two weeks. He didn't yell, he just put on another two weeks.

You know what though. It was worth it...

I beat him...

I was the fastest...

 

But what I wouldn't give for just one...

more...

race...

 

Angry and missing him.