Monday, June 28, 2010

Thunder in the Valley...

Yesterday we decided to "soak up some local color" and head over to Johnstown for their annual event, Thunder in the Valley. Thousands of motorcycles descend upon a ride route centered around Johnstown. Streets close down, motorcycle paraphernalia vendors set up and a throng of thousands of people make their way through the downtown ogling bikes and listening to free concerts.

Admittedly, I was more interested in the fried foods than the motorcycles. I can appreciate the well crafted machines, but can't claim any overt fondness. (At least not the kind of fondness I have for a freshly fried funnel cakes doused with powdered sugar.)

My brother used to have a motorcycle. He left it in our barn when he disappeared. In the early days, I used to perch myself on it and wish for it to carry me away to him, as if its gears and mechanical heart would know exactly where to find him.

Later, when I was older, but not by much, one of my dad's employees (who rode a cherry red motorcycle with a sexy lady painted on it) befriended me. We were an odd pair. That summer, we spent many long hours together while working and in the idle moments between lawns we talked about comic books and places we'd always dreamed of going to. Sometimes I talked about my brother. Sometimes he talked about his. He missed his kid brother who lived on the other side of the country with his newly remarried mother and I missed my absent older brother who was about his age. I think he felt sorry for me and my family, not knowing where my brother was. Tommy used to sneak me on his motorcycle, going around in circles in the yard, pretending to let me drive. He promised that when I was older, he'd get my brother's old bike running again and then the two of us would go looking for him.

One day, Tommy didn't show up for work. I was never completely clear about what happened – if he had found easier work or a better paying job or if he decided to live closer to his brother across the country or if my mom had caught him taking me around the yard on his bike with the "dirty girl" painted on it. I never found out and they never told.

In the coming years, my motorcycle meditations became less and less frequent. But when I did sit on the bike, slowly becoming more and more dilapidated in the old red barn, imagining all the places I would go and finding my long lost brother, I also imagined finding my friend too.

9 comments:

Alice said...

Andrew, each time I hear a little more about your brother I learn a little more about you.

I hope the sadness and loss you feel from his disappearance is lessened by the happy memories you recall from your days with him.

Janet said...

Hi Andrew I always feel sadness when you speak of your brother bc of how it has to make you and your family feel.
Its nice to see who you are slowly emerge.
This made me wonder whatever happened to your friend I hope all is well with him too.

Joan Tucker said...

Andrew, it is a sad story.. however it illuminated how very very well you write.

Gaea said...

Beautiful. I felt every word you wrote. Especially the part about the funnel cakes! ; )

kate mckinnon said...

Maybe you will have a dream, and your brother will be sitting on a soft concrete wall...and you can talk to him.

I did see my mother last night, at a plastic one-piece table for two in a fast food restaurant in Marrakesh. Unfortunately it was kind of hectic there and in my dream I had forgotten that she disappeared and died, and so I wasn't able to pull my dream self into a form that could make the most of it. But my soul felt a little surge when I saw her, and I was grateful.

Jamar said...

When you open your heart what pours out is breathtaking.
My dog made a quick and decisive decision to run away from the lightening last Thursday night...in one split second she was gone.....no good-bye-bye....
I've contemplated the pain of disappearance this week....

jenna@sweetfineday said...

i'm so intrigued by your brother. thank you for sharing these stories - it must be so hard. And lol about being more interested in the fried food than the motorcycles.

Cynthia Thornton said...

Yes, we have always enjoyed fair food! Remember how much we ate at the rib fest that time? How different the rest of us kids turned out...uninterested in bikes (our big brother loved speed!) and really into food (how someone related to us could be bored by food is a mystery).

Andrew Thornton said...

I love fair food. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. Yep, rib fest was GOOD! That's the one thing they didn't have at Thunder in the Valley... pulled pork sandwiches. Oh, I have such a craving for it. Might have to go over to Clem's and pick one up with a vanilla cream soda.

Well, it's been twenty years... so who knows if he grew into being a foodie? I didn't get bit by the food bug until I was an adult.