Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Saturday 30 January 2010

My life on two wheels

I'm leaning into this learning curve.

Today, we suited up and went out into the garage to get the scooter. We also rolled the Professor's motorcycle out on to the driveway. And then, although separately and slowly (me being the slowest), we rode.

To start, I had decided that I would finally pull my legs up on to the front of the scooter and ride like a normal person. I'd still only tried it once before (with my legs out to the sides) and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to feel comfortable.

Here's how it all went down...

Scene 1: me pushing the button that opens the gate of the apartment building, just after pushing the button that turns the scooter on. My face: scared. The Professor's: eager. My bike is in front, his is behind. He motions for me to go ahead before the gate closes. I turn the throttle hoping that picking up speed will help me not fall over and will get me through the gate in time.

Scene 2: the two of us -- me in front -- moving along a deserted loop of road at under 20 km per hour. We look like we're searching for a lost toddler or waiting for a friend to catch up. This is our running route and I've been on this road before -- probably going faster. I've never quite noticed that the barrier on the side that goes down the mountain has so many gaps, but I pull my legs in anyway and feel out the movement of the bike.

Scene 3: our fourth ride around the loop. We're going faster and the Professor is in the lead, slowly increasing our speed. I knew I wouldn't go faster on my own, but also that I wouldn't want to be left behind. I'm no longer afraid of accidentally swerving into parked cars or driving over stray cats -- of which I've never seen so many as today. I pull down my visor, which instantly fogs up. I realize, with some relief, that I'm breathing.

Scene 4: we drive for some time until we reach a small mountain restaurant with a hazy view of the harbour. There is a giant boat slowly making its way through the water in the Baie des Anges below. I eat fish and then chocolate mousse. We drink NO wine. I think about how nice it would be to come back there on the bikes at night -- one day, when I'm even stronger.

Scene 5: On the way back from the restaurant, a dog in a raised backyard barks in my face from behind a fence and I accidentally jiggle the handle bars. But I don't lose it, even though I still look like somewhat of a loser. I let annoyed cars pass me and slowly pick up speed. My legs are in, my grip is firm... and... I CAN DRIVE A SCOOTER!!!

I'm now back home, rewarding myself with an espresso and several chocolate-covered pralines, shaped to look like different coloured olives. I still can't believe that I risked my life learning on the roads in these mountains. But if I hadn't, I know I would have been risking my life in France.

I needed transportation. And now I've got it.

Tomorrow, although cold, we'll go to the beach with a picnic to celebrate.

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