It is the night before the 2015 Redbull US MotoGP and Indianapolis is electric. I am about to attempt a very difficult maneuveur that I probably should have YouTubed before attempting in front of so many people.
I ride up to the only available street parking space for miles on a BMW 1200 RT motorcycle and consider the tiny slot into which I must squeeze the 550 lb. testament to German engineering, which has grown hot and downright grumpy at the slow pace of urban movement. There is not much time. Traffic is beginning to move again and I am in the middle of the street.
The sidewalk is packed with pedestrians and patio diners at the Capital Grille. The street is a barrage of exotic exhaust notes and tattoos and leather and chrome and colors that would look great alone, but together mix awkwardly like a kindergartner's finger painting. Someone honks. It is not unfriendly, but the sentiment is the same. You want to have it both ways? Fine. Just hurry up.
Beads of sweat begin to roll down the back of my neck and the air is heavy and warm in my helmet. It's now or never. That honking horn is right. I made the choice to put the saddle bags on the motorcycle, to attempt the rare and very difficult Quick Change on one of the busiest nights of the year. My only hope is that the onlookers can't see the fear in my eyes. This scares me more than doing a buck thirty on the interstate ever would. This is the trade-off of being a lady rider. The cost of loving to go fast and still maintain a shred of decorum upon braking.
With a deep breath, I grip the clutch and eases backwards toward the curb, mere inches from a Goldwing so new it still smells like a down payment and the denim-clad kneecap of the man with the mustache who sits astride it.
There. In. Kickstand down. Ignition off.
In a flash I am off the bike. Helmet first, to breathe. Then jacket. Saddlebags open, black heels with the gold buckle come out and stand at attention, hidden in the shadows next to the kickstand like conspirators to my madness. Bootstraps loosened. A few strategic shimmies and the pants slip from underneath my short, black skirt and drop to the ground. I bend down surreptitiously. By the time I have straightened, the heels are on and my hair is hair fluffed. Gear is stowed in the bags and a turquoise pashmina finally makes an appearance. The look is complete.
I look down, and spot a huge line of grease across my knuckles. So close. But the Quick Change is an art. And art forms take time to perfect. "Do you work here?" asks the man on the Goldwing.
I blink and look down. I'm wearing all black. I suppose I do look rather like a waitress, now that I think of it. "Err...not at the moment," I respond. "I have a date."
"You're all right, you know that?" he observes. "I like your bike." And with a nod, he is gone.
Is it about feminism? I don't think so. Not this time. Neither is it about vanity.
It's about versatility. A willingness to see adaptation not as a burden, but as an opportunity to get more from your experience.
Why forgo the dressing up experience and night on the town because you are stuck in riding gear? So what if it's a little tricky to keep your pearl earrings from popping off when you take off your helmet? Why forgo the joy of the wind buffeting you as you lean into a curvy road, visions of the MotoGP guys doing it at 225 kph dancing through your mind, just so you can wear a skirt and have perfect hair?
Compromise is shrinking. People are expecting their experience to go further, to cover more bases. They want to sacrifice less. In business. In relationships. Barriers aren't just lowering, they are getting blown to pieces. The millennials are persuading the world that they can have it all. Who are we to disagree?