The power. The freedom. The geometry. The sound. The textures. Art in motion, I love bikes.
I didn’t know how much I would truly, I mean for reals truly love, working on them.
I ignored the seed that was planted working on an old Honda many, many years ago. I had the Bitch in my head telling me you can’t work on bikes, you have no business in a shop. But knowing the world of public education was failing me, I started to listen to that voice less and less and myself, more and more.
While still working my ass off as a school admin years ago, I called bike schools and left my info between meetings. I’d see a call back from Orlando, Phoenix or another bike school I knew I had called, but I couldn’t answer. I had a curiosity, the kind you had when you were burning ants with a magnifying glass as a kid, but I didn’t act. I couldn’t pull the trigger. I was listening to the Bitch again…I let her scare me away. But that seed still lived, they usually do.
It took me 2 years of baby steps, tinkering on my own bike, getting fired and being unemployed to finally do it. I ignored the fear and ignored the Bitch for a moment, not because I was brave, but because I had nothing to lose. I took my pink pigtails to bike school, “just to check it out”, and I was terrified.
That visit turned out to be the last day of possible registration. A serendipitous sign. I was given a personal tour. I was made to feel welcomed, overly so in fact. I was told over and over again how being a woman wouldn’t matter. I was assured that one, yes one other girl had been in the program. Shit. That so didn’t help, it was just a reminder of my difference. Scared and second -guessing, I almost threw up during the tour…and classes wouldn’t start for a few months. Then, in a moment of defiance to the Bitch, I pulled out the tiny piece of plastic, and paid a deposit on tuition. I registered for moto mechanic school.
I looked at the paperwork from registration. The last day to get a refund should I chicken out was my birthday. Would this finally be a present to myself, to actually do it?
Summer. Still scared. Perseverating on the possibility of failure.
This was going to be foreign to me, it would be hard. After all, this would essentially be learning a second language, and new skills. Chasing a passion and embracing curiosity, isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s just plain damn scary. I couldn’t let people see me fail…and this time, as with most things really, quitting would be a failure. I feel like I have failed plenty, thanks. Not this time. Suck it up buttercup.
Twas the night before school, and all through my head the Bitch was way too loud, filling me with dread. Nothing would drown her out.
She was rough on me that night. I lay in bed unable to sleep as she yelled and poked me: I would be too old, I would be the only girl, I couldn’t name every tool in the shop, I didn’t know all the parts. I had no business being there. Bitch, Bitch, Bitch…relentless. For as long as I can remember, I have been a part of the first day of school. As a teacher, I looked forward to those days of new, exciting and scary. I knew my students would be a mess, and I was there to calm them. This time I was the mess, the one needing the reassurance. I didn’t sleep.
I didn’t know it all already and that was scary. This was something I could genuinely fail at. I hate and fear failure, so much so that I have avoided things because I feared I could fail. How damn ridiculous to be afraid to learn. Anxiety sucks sometimes…actually always. Suck it up buttercup.
I drove with my phone telling me sweetly in her British accent when to turn. I found myself filling out the sheets I had given to my students for so many years. I read the familiar “What should I know about you?” section, where I wanted to carve in all caps how nervous I was, but I was too nervous to admit I was nervous. But, I made it through my first day. I sucked it up.
So far, I’ve learned that I’m scared to fail all the time but more importantly, that it is ok to be scared… but dammit, it is not ok, not to try.
FAIL=First Attempt In Learning. What a gift to finally get it.
Still in school and I love the shit out of it. I love being able to fix it. I can see what I have accomplished (or not…yet) at the end of the day. I have learned to ask for help if I get stuck. Huge. I’m pretty damn good at fixing a bike, and I’m getting better all the time. I love that a smell can tell you something, a feel that is just right, sounds that finally ping with the right pitch. There is beauty in the broken, everywhere, if you look for it.
The camaraderie with the guys has extended into them making fun of my nerves at finals, they’ve made me laugh at it. Rather magical, really, that I can now stop and laugh at my fear of failure every once in a while. Every once in a while.
I’m learning. I’m learning about bikes, and myself on this ride. I’m learning.