I had been living in a lonely room in a boarding house. I walked up five flights to get to it. In the two months I was there, I don’t remember seeing other tenants. There was a hot pan where I cooked lamb chops and a shilling meter for heat. It was cold and, with that heater, only one side of me got warm at a time. The cleaning lady was my only friend. I heard someone in another building practicing the piano.
It was a big change in my life becauseI realized my introversion, actually enjoying my days alone at the museums and the films and the theater. But I was young and lonely too, so much so that I would see someone on the street and be sure I knew her but also know with my sane mind that it wasn’t so. I was just lonely. I kept moving, doing things. That saved me. I went everywhere in London.
Finally, the money came through and with my fist full of cash, I hustled over to the far side of town to the Triumph shop and bought the bike, a leather jacket, boots, a helmet, a pair of goggles and gloves. It was evening by then. I had the guy at the shop drive us both over to my boarding house. I only theoretically knew how to operate a motorcycle. Added to that was the pressure of a couple of other facts. My landlady was on the warpath because I was a day into the next month and she wanted me to pay the whole month. Basically, I told her,
“It ain’t gonna happen.” She countered with,
“You bloody Americans think you own the world.” And I said,
“Yeah, maybe, so what?”
The other fact was that I had luggage and a guitar, which wouldn’t go on the motorcycle. I didn’t buy saddle bags, (probably because they didn’t look cool), so I had to ship all of that ahead to Madrid, my final destination. This had to happen fast before my landlady could figure out how to squeeze me for the rent which, by now, I didn’t have anyway.
That night I was up very late reading the motorcycle manual and up very early getting my bags to the train station and then, finally, trying to start the motorcycle and make my way to the English Channel and the boat to France.
The motorcycle started and I began to know how to drive it in the London traffic and to feel a little more empowered and excited about the road I was on, what it would lead to up ahead. And I didn’t even have a change of clothes.