There’s a new key on my ring that I can’t use just yet, but I’m carrying it anyway because I’m excited about this unexpected gift from my husband. I’m still sort of in a state of disbelief about it, to be honest. I can’t quite believe I really have this key, let alone what it goes to… But I’ll leave you in suspense for a moment and come back to that.
Here’s what I find kind of funny today. Jon and I have been reading The Five Love Languages, and we have determined that “receiving gifts” is not my love-language. As a writer, maybe it’s not surprising that “words of affirmation” are what speak most eloquently to my heart—and those are closely followed by the language of “physical touch.”
I feel absolutely adored when Jon leaves me a sweet card with a hand-written love note. Or when he calls me by a pet name, tells me I look cute or sexy, says he loves me. I even thrill when he calls me “Mrs. Smith,” because it’s an emphasis on the married-in-love “Mrs.”… We spend a few hours of every day on the phone, he with his Bluetooth in his ear while his head is under hoods of cars—we talk to each other while we go about our days, and I never tire of the sound of his voice. Words do it for me, no question! I’m also a hand-holder, a snuggler, a butt-grabber, and a happy recipient of reciprocal touches. When he puts his arm around me in church and holds my hand in the grocery store, I feel Capital-L-Loved.
Now don’t get me wrong, regarding gifts. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate them, they’re just not the currency that “proves love” in my emotional world. When he does give me something, I find myself floored by it, maybe because it seems like such an “extra.”
When I was nine years old my parents took us on a six-month trip through Europe, and my sister and I became connoisseurs of continental breakfasts at B&Bs… I remember our delight when breakfasts in the Netherlands included chocolate sprinkles to add to our buttered toast—that seemed to us like the utmost in decadence. That’s a perfect analogy for how I feel about gifts.
Words-and-touch are my emotional bread-and-butter; a gift is purely chocolate-sprinkles-decadence.
How’s that for a build-up to this week’s extraordinary “chocolate sprinkles”?
Here it is: my new key says “BMW” on it, and it goes to a gorgeous sapphire-colored K1200-RS motorcycle. I mentioned last week that I’d be getting my license back now that I have a job to go to, and that I’m going to add my motorcycle endorsement and learn to ride. But I wasn’t expecting this.
Um, wow. Primary love-languages aside, this gift does make me feel loved. “Motorcycle” is definitely a language that speaks to me! And it speaks to a measure of Jon’s confidence in me that also makes me feel valued—confidence that I’ll learn and ride well, confidence in my work at the new job (I think this isn’t an expense he would have incurred without the prospect of a second income), confidence in our future fun and adventures biking together. (Because we usually arrive at church with helmets in hand, one of Jon’s fellow church elders calls us “the Smith Gang—if two people can be a motorcycle gang.” I like being the Smith Gang.)
Tomorrow a friend is taking me to the DMV so I can reinstate my license, get my motorcycle learner’s permit, register my bike, and take the written test for my motorcycle endorsement. I’ll be driving the car to work for a while, while we do riding lessons off the streets. Meanwhile, I’m carrying that key like a talisman of love & promised adventure…
It only took one afternoon on a motorcycle, some years ago, for me to fall in love with Riding. It wasn’t long after that ride that I added a bike-tattoo, literally front and center. For me it represents open road ahead, Life’s Journey, adventure and possibilities… But it also represented a real yearning to ride—a fantasy that was out of reach for most of the years I’ve sported this ink.
My late husband and I had talked longingly for years about getting a motorcycle, and just a few weeks before his death we had bartered a certificate-to-our-restaurant in exchange for a neighbor’s old bike. After Keoni’s suicide I wheeled the bike back down the street, knowing that the restaurant-certificate had just become valueless. That generous neighbor actually offered to let me keep it anyway—but at that point I felt too dispirited to focus on getting it fixed up and learning to ride on my own. In retrospect, it probably would have been healthy for me to take on the challenge, but at the time I was just feeling too overwhelmed to contemplate it.
All that to say…. I’d spent some years yearning to ride—and then Jon picked me up on his bike for our first date! No, I didn’t marry him for the motorcycle, but boy is that a bonus! We’ve been riding rain or shine (everything but snow & ice) for the 18 months since. I love every minute on the back of that bike, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of graduating from “decorative item on the back” to riding my own.
Jon is calling her “Baby’s Blue,” and she’s calling me. Think my neighbors will laugh if I go sit on her in the driveway? Again?
We’re planning our summer vacation week—a camping-trip on the Oregon coast, some Scuba diving and deep-sea fishing… and we’re planning to trailer the bikes to the coast so we can ride once we get there.
The tattoo has come true: I’ve gone from yearning to learning! And I think that (in my world) “Motorcycle” might be the sixth Love Language.