In July and August of 2000 I rode a thirty year old scooter across the country with the young guys in this picture. It remains the most consequential thing I’ve ever done. Halfway through the trip, in San Francisco, I decided I would not be returning to New Orleans. I had about $50 and the green and silver scooter above (I’m third from the right, not wearing a shirt for some unremembered terrible reason; though I suspect it was about a million degrees in July down in Louisiana).
I never moved back to the South and for years I lost contact with pretty much everyone in the photo. Scott (all the way on the left) , remains a friend through the power of social media as does Nate, to my left in the picture (maroon and white bike).
When I left New Orleans the headlight still wasn’t in my bike, but I had four mirrors because I thought it was funny. The front rack had an ammo box on it that to this day I keep personal papers and remembrances in. The frame on my bike was always fucked up and the front fork was from a different model, so the scooter always wobbled and swerved, especially at high speed. Eventually I took the engine out and threw it into a newer P200 model. It ran great even though it had mismatched cases. I also abused it mercilessly during the piston break in period.
I was 22 years old at the time and completely intolerable to be around. Almost every night I was drinking to excess and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do or how to be available to other people. Eventually I had a falling out of sorts with one guy in the picture. It wasn’t something I cared much about at the time and I still don’t have any strong feelings about it. I guess friendships fall apart and it can be painful when they do, but this evaporated without fanfare.
Since this picture went up on Facebook I’ve started to wonder about all these guys. Most of them have families and have settled down, whereas I’m currently up in Humboldt County on a cannabis business trip (not for my work, I’m just tagging along). I have a completely different life, just like they do. In a way the people we were and knew don’t even exist anymore.
I’m glad to have the picture, though. It marks the end of a very unhappy time in my life and the start of becoming who I am now. If I hadn’t taken that trip, I wouldn’t have left Louisiana. I wouldn’t have met my wife. I wouldn’t have a great career. I wouldn’t own a great loft in Oakland. I wouldn’t have two dogs that look like goblins. Everything good in my life came from that trip.
So guys, wherever you guys all are, thank you for letting me ride with you all those years ago.