I don’t like to admit it, but I hate the feeling I get coming back home after a long motorcycle trip.
There is so much stuff everywhere, routines become bad things instead of good things, and all I can think of is setting in place plans to get away again.
Stuff is probably the biggest problem.
I want to be clear here. My home, while small and cluttered, is not as bad as the homes of people on reality shows who need the clinical intervention of a home-organizing expert.
The problem is, after living simply off my motorcycle with nothing more than will fit in my saddlebags (they call them panniers on the BMW) – and maybe a small bag on the passenger seat – it doesn’t take much to reach the threshold of “too much”.
Camping, it takes all the space the bike has just to contain the necessities of life: tent, sleeping bag, cooking kit and enough clothes to keep warm on the bike and at night.
Not camping, I live simply – sleeping in empty, uncluttered guest rooms and hotels and, for the most part, do without the extras.
The low begins a few hundred kilometres from home and doesn’t stop until I get back on the road. It’s as if “the stuff” is reaching out and burdening me with the responsibility of its ownership. I start thinking about all the things I will have to do and I realize that things are about to return to being complicated.
My desk, the mess of paperwork that is always on it and the drawerful of receipts that still needs to be transformed into last year’s income tax return, find their way back into my thoughts.
When travelling I take one book to read and one to write in, and occasionally magazines that I carry for a time, read, then leave behind. At home there are shelves of books and magazines and drawers of books for writing in. Unread books on the shelves and blank ones for writing become a responsibility instead of diversion.
Even the photos in my camera demand to be printed and put into albums – to be converted from weightless and compact digital files to books that must be stored and looked after – once I get home.
Routines on the road are simple. You spend a lot of time dressing and undressing, to deal with the elements and the potential hazard of being on a bike. You ride. You stop to drink coffee or tea, eat, get gas or rest your rear end, and then you ride again.
When you ride you think, and when you do the other things, you do the other things – simple.
At home it always feels as if routines are not allowed to be simple because there are too many of them. Dressing is quick, but more complicated because you don’t wear the same thing everyday.
Coffee, tea and food require complex routines of planning, shopping and preparation, each step fraught with the need to make decisions.
On the road, the decision-making is limited to a couple of pages on a diner menu, or among three or four layers of clothing (I ride in the north; sometimes the decision is among four or five layers).
The low of being back home is the start of longing for the road again. It’s been months now, and it is still evident. In early December, motorcycle season in the Yukon is a long way off.
The only thing to do is to start setting plans. I can feel my mood begin to lift the moment that thought hits. This time I forgot the proactive solution – to start planning the next trip on the last few hundred kilometres from home on the last ride.