Imagine a vehicle with two wheels that can break all the rules of the road whenever it damn well pleases.
Imagine climbing onto the back of this vehicle and refusing a helmet.
Imagine being swerved around cars and in between lanes.
Imagine the feeling of bumping over potholes and manholes.
Imagine coming so close to a stopped car that you can feel the heat from beneath it lick your ankles.
Now imagine in the midst of all this chaos, you unlock your cell phone to text about dinner.
It remains yet to be seen if you will even make it home alive, but you, oh fearless one, are already thinking about dinner.
You’re not thinking about your life or the possibility of losing it.
You want a banana cake,
Nigerian chicken stew,
A fresh pot of rice.
Cause you crazy.
Cause you don’t love your momma.
Cause you don’t love nobody.
Ya’ll. Everyday after work, I am the fool who gets on a motorbike taxi. I never take the helmet because I refuse to fasten the straps and it won’t stay on otherwise. The hardest part is getting on. The second hardest part is getting off. I’m just not sure of the motorbike etiquette and I get all awkward. Can I use the shoulder of the driver to balance myself? That seems a little intimate. Where do I put my hands? And when I get off, how far forward can I lean? Are we boyfriend and girlfriend if my breasts press firmly against your back?
I thought I had gone native when I walked up to the motorcycle taxi stand and confidently said my address in Thai. Then I thought I had truly let down my guard when I caught myself texting while on the back of the motorcycle. But today, I crossed another threshold when I put my hands on my knees. It seems obvious to me now after enduring so many weirdo moments wondering where to place my hands. Lightly on his shoulder? Around his waist? In the air? After all, the whole ride is a rollercoaster.
The unnerving thing about the motorcycle taxi isn’t the speed at which the driver darts in and out of traffic. The unnerving thing is your vantage point. Mysteriously, you can always see too much while never being able to see quite enough. Your options include peering over a shoulder or staring at your skewed reflection in the back of a helmet. You can’t control a single thing from your position on the bike. You just have to agree. Agree and hope.
And eventually that hope turns into a trust.
Because where we hope, we also trust.
And even though our natural inclination might be to take everything into hand, at some point we trust enough to simply put our hands on our knees.