I couldn’t have been happier when Mike picked me up at the Nice airport. I had just had a great stopover in London to see Ellen and both of my flights had provided me with the luxury (though also the guilt of my gigantic carbon footprint) of having whole rows of seats to myself to lay down and sleep.
He was dressed in his fashionable black “leather” jacket that all the coolest guys have and a cute untamed mohawk. We walked with my baggage to the parking lot, where I saw for the first time our scooter. We loaded her up and drove easily to the hotel. That was the first time I got to witness what it means to be on a scooter in Europe.
Ok, here is a list of the pros and cons of riding a scooter versus a car.
1. It gets a little cold sometimes.
2. You don’t have a ton of room for your stuff
1. You can go wherever you want whenever you want–including but not limited to, inside markets, pedestrian streets, into oncoming traffic, between lanes, on sidewalks, into parks, the list goes on (those are just the ones that we have done so far).
2. You can park wherever you want whenever you want for free– pedestrian streets, sidewalks, parks, in front of other cars, etc.
3. You can smell the land– the smell of people cooking, burning olive trees, damp dirt, you can even smell women and men with a lot of perfume as you pass them by on small streets.
4. I think you look super cool carrying a helmet into the cities. It really feels like people see it and are immediately at ease with you. They think, Oh those people can ride, they’re OK by me. I like that.
I think it was about 3 hours into our ride on second day I was here that I realized that I had been smiling the whole time I was riding. I checked myself to make sure that it wasn’t because I was squinting from the bright sun, but when I tried to stop smiling, it literally felt unnatural and I couldn’t do it for long. Each day is like that. Joyful is the word that comes to mind.
Something about me… I made a realization while we were eating lunch at a restaurant 1500 feet up that Mike describes in his post. It is that I am rarely happy for myself. I find much happiness in witnessing happiness– I sat and witnessed the townspeople’s joy at seeing their friends on the tv and was happy to see them being happy. But the life I live is more of an ups and downs and arounds sort of thing. I feel (the goods) pride and inspiration and accomplishment, I feel (the negatives) self doubt and frustration and challenge, but not a ton of what I call “happiness” (nor “sadness” for that matter). But when I ride on the back of that scooter, all I can call it is “happiness.” I suppose freedom comes to mind too, but there are no real challenges and I am not overcoming anything. I am just happy for the sake of being happy. It feels good to feel that for a while.
Ok, that’s all for now.