My motorcycle stole my beauty

About one month after we took off from Ann Arbor, Michigan I declared to Jay that I felt more beautiful than I had in a very long time. These feelings came to me during a long ride in the middle of Wyoming, surrounded by vast stretches of ranch land that sprawl into the distance before meeting with the clear blue sky on the horizon.  Perhaps the serene surroundings were the reason for my sudden burst of self-admiration.  Maybe it was the fact that as opposed to sitting at a computer for nine hours a day I was constantly active, moving and toning my body as I worked to keep the motorcyle upright.  It could have been that through traveling in such remote areas I was relieved of the pressure to maintain a certain unachievable standard of beauty.  Or maybe I was still riding the high of leaving our lives in the U.S. to take off on this grand adventure. Whatever the cause, the feeling was intense and it felt great! I was beautiful!

Fast forward six months and that feeling is long gone. Now, I'm not talking about inner beauty here.  I'm talking about that, "damn I look good" feeling.  I'm talking about that "walking down the street and I'm pretty sure I'm turning heads" kind of feeling.  I'm talking about feeling that pure, albeit superficial, outward beauty.  That feeling, my friends, is long gone. Maybe the following example will help explain...

Jay and I roll up to a hip surfer town in El Salvador (or any number of other beach towns we have stopped at in the last six months).  We have just finished a long day riding in almost unbearable heat and humidity.  A normal human wearing any amount of clothing would be at the very least shimmering from the heat of the day.  We, however are not normal humans and instead are wearing heavy, black, head-to-toe, fingertip-to-fingertip padded riding gear and basically the world's hottest winter hat in the form of a full face helmet.  I, therefore am sweating buckets. Forget the, "girls don't sweat they glisten" shit, I'm drenched and dripping.  

We find a parking spot on the main drag where we can station ourselves temporarily while searching for a place to spend the night.  I remove my helmet and instead of like in the tv commercials where the woman takes off her helmet and her luscious hair shakes loose onto her shoulders revealing a sexy, messy and voluminous mane, mine stays plastered to my head retaining the shape of said helmet.  Even if I tried to shake it lose, it's so caked with sweat and dirt that it wouldn't budge....I've tried.

I stay with the bikes while Jay walks around to find a hotel and suddenly become super conscious of just how unattractive I look.  Scanning my surroundings I see hoards of gorgeous women wearing skimpy bikinis, showing off their yoga and Pilates-toned bodies.  I, in contrast, am wearing a dry fit tee with sweat stains outlining my sports bra and extending in a semi-circle below my armpits.  My t-shirt is tightly tucked into my riding pants which sit high on my waist, extend wide beyond my hips where there is extra padding (just what every woman wants) and then taper in gradually to the ankles.  My knee high moon/riding boots complete the flattering outfit, jutting out in all their bulky, muddy glory.  My random tan lines consisting of a small strip of darker skin around my wrists where my jacket doesn't quite reach my riding gloves, are made even more obvious when compared to the other tourists' fully browned bodies.  My calloused hands (the pads of my right throttle hand more-so than my left) suddenly seem exponentially more rough when admiring the smooth skin of the others.  The large and multiple blisters that have popped up between my toes begin to burn as I admire the neatly manicured feet of passersby.  

I try to remain unseen, sitting low on the curb in between the two bikes, legs sprawled wide open because, hey if I have given up on retaining any aspect of femininity I may as well be comfortable.  It is at this point that I realize even if I succeed in staying out of view of all the Laguna Beach look-alikes, there was no way I would be able to stay out of smell.  Hunched forward with my elbows resting on my knees I catch a whiff of my ripeness.  I once tried to explain to my sister Rachel how badly my gear smelled and she asked (the way that only a sister could), "Does it smell worse than the croch of your running shorts?" The answer in that moment on the side of the road in beach heaven El Salvador, was yes. Yes, it did.

I finally spotted Jay walking toward me.  He too, was sweating profusely from wearing his 10-year old, tattered riding pants and cumbersome boots around town.  The technical tee he wears daily is stained with oil, dirt, and God knows what else.  His shirt is strategically tucked into his tight riding undershorts which jut out just enough above his pants that you can see the white waist band.  The silver chain containing a St.Christopher medallion is hung around his neck such that, if you didn't know him you might assume he hails from Jersey.  He stood out (and smelled out) just as much as me.  As he neared, we locked eyes and he broke out into that familiar smile I have come to know so well. "What?", I asked when his smirk grew larger.  "Nothing," he replied, "I just think you're beautiful."  I rolled my eyes, "We really needed to hurry up and get to the hotel. Those tacos from last night aren't sitting so well..."

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Comments: 14
  • #1

    James (Saturday, 31 January 2015 14:01)

    Well, maybe you think that external beauty is gone - it isn't - but you must admit the excitement that creates the true internal beauty is still alive and doing very well, thank you. Just ask those of us who follow your journey and luive vicariously with you and Jay.

    Want to compare your magnificent journey to those "surf beauties" who have traveled to your beachside town the in air conditioned comfort of a luxury car - only the rich can afford that, right? - to your journey of a lifetime?

    Don't worry about showing some sweat. You are, after all, living the dream. Doing it right.

    They lose. You win. Simple as that.

  • #2

    Andrea (Saturday, 31 January 2015 22:06)

    Emily Flinkstrom, you sassy, babealicious 'A' in the dynamic 'T&A' combo! I'm sure the armpit stains on your pink t-shirt really make your eyes pop!:) I have to admit, while I was reading this entry I could hear your voice telling the story. This got multiple out loud laughs and made me miss you even more! Enjoy the ride and actually living life! Give Jay a hug for me and know that the Marone's are sending lots of happy vibes your way!
    Ps - good luck with the tacos!

  • #3

    Lily (Saturday, 31 January 2015 22:50)

    Bwahahahaaaa!!! Oh lord do I know exactly how you feel. Tim is doing a great job of documenting our travels in a thousand photos, all of which seem to show me in a similar state to that which you so beautifully capture. Nicely put my dear. x

  • #4

    Michael (Sunday, 01 February 2015 02:00)

    And there it is... True unconditional love. Sweat stains and all. Miss you both.

  • #5

    Grampa (Monday, 02 February 2015 17:02)

    You are One of My Favorite Granddaughters no matter the circumstances environmental or personal. Nothing can diminish my love for you!

  • #6

    Marie-José (Tuesday, 03 February 2015 09:01)

    ...for me your story tells me you are allowing yourself to be yourself and that you have a great partner that sees you for who you are...a women that rides bike! And that experience and feeling of riding made you glow so bright, even in daylight! Thank you for your story xxx

  • #7

    Norma (Tuesday, 03 February 2015 17:15)

    You have filled me with beauty and inspired me in so many different ways.I love your story it is truly what us ladies need to hear from time to time to keep our dreams alive and our journey going.I feel like I'm finally living my dream.God bless you and Jay. We are who we are. Thanks for sharing your story

  • #8

    Cathy T. (Tuesday, 03 February 2015 20:34)

    Sounds like the perfect day to me! Throw a hat and shades on and grin like one should after riding all day! Who cares what others think!! "They" are clearly clueless about the real things of value in life.
    Come on spring.........I want my motorcycle!

  • #9

    Marko (Wednesday, 04 February 2015 13:35)

    Hi Emily and Jay,

    You stand out of the crowd. In Latin America everyone sees these beach girls, but it is more seldom when they see some true travellers. Carry your sweat stained shirt with proud :)
    There is not a single motorcycle traveller who does not stink :D
    When you get to Colombia and up to the mountains, air turns nice and cool (could actually feel cold!).

  • #10

    Dar (Thursday, 05 February 2015)

    I don't think your motorcycle stole your beauty at all! I see a strong and beautifully confident woman living her dream. Embrace your helmet hair, because you are experiencing things very few women dare to do - ride a motorcycle & living the dream! I embrace my helmet hair, well worn gear and even the bit the funky moto aroma that goes along with it. Keep riding! You look gorgeous!

  • #11

    Timmy Hulst Bayer (Thursday, 05 February 2015 19:17)

    You are too "Kool" girl!!! You know what I think at the moment you felt like that, I think you were as beautiful as your husband thought!! I'm a female fellow rider and married. To a man. And the way you tell a story is amazing! I felt like I was sitting there right with you! I felt as if you were the beauty you described. Anyway friend, you need a gental push into reality.
    You are a image of every lady rider out there. We all feel as if we look that way after a long ride! That's part of the fun. You do have ways to make yourself feel better about yourself. I'm guessing you want advice so here goes it.
    I always leave my house before a ride fresh. All girled up.perfume the nine. (Well not always but close) then when we stop for a soda etc. I spruse myself up a bit. I always have a cap in my saddle bags for the helmit head. Just a bit, makes a difference for the social part. Not too much, you don't want to spend the whole safety meeting in the bathroom. But then after you get done with a long ride, you a a little to work with while the ol man gets the motel. Which NOW you have that much needed shower. But there are some thins I do to not feel so icky after a ride. Hay always wear sunscreen. Helmit or not. And lip screen. You think look bad go ten years with out it and you'll look like twenty has lapsed.hay you look good anyway... Just ask your hubby!

  • #12

    Roger Gruner (Friday, 03 February 2017 01:01)

    Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It's on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

  • #13

    Latoyia Didonato (Friday, 03 February 2017 20:41)

    I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  • #14

    Monet Beene (Saturday, 04 February 2017 14:12)

    Hi there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask. Does managing a well-established blog such as yours take a massive amount work? I'm brand new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal everyday. I'd like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!