Worth reading – She drove a Harley, an excerpt Women

The Readable Week is She Rode a She Rode a Harley: A Memory of Love and Motorcycles Harley: A Memory of Love and Motorcycles by Mary Jane Black.

Here is an excerpt from her book:

The first Harley

On a sunny Saturday in California I'm sitting on the side of the road in front of our garage. My booted foot taps impatiently on the concrete, my hand swinging my helmet. I'm waiting for Dwayne to bring my first Harley home. I see his truck turn the corner and a big black and white motorcycle sits in the back of the truck.

I help him roll the Harley down the ramp onto the street. For the first time, I realize it's a police motorcycle, a Road King with hard saddlebags and a tall windshield. The Road King shows the black and white color scheme of a police Harley Davidson. The outline of the Mountain View police badge it bore looked out from under the white paint in the center of the gas tank. The buttons on the handlebar contain buttons for a siren and flashing lights. I express it experimentally. Dwayne laughs and tells me that they are not connected so I can not run parades.

I slide my leg over the wide seat and swing both feet up on the footboards, while Dwayne stabilizes the front. I sit down on the sidewalk, putting my left foot down and balancing most of the police special on my leg. Dwayne squats next to me. He shows me how to use the heel and toe levers of a Harley. I step on my heel to shift to higher gears and step on the front pedal to shift to lower gears.

"Take it from the kickstand, baby." I press the kickstand back with my left foot. I stand on my toes as the bike is too high to lay my feet flat. I look at Dwayne and he nods.

I press the start button and the engine comes to life. The motorbike sways slightly below me like a strange animal, while the vibration of the engine shakes it and me. I take the first gear. I push the throttle forward and swing my feet up. The motorcycle is racing forward.

I'm planning to drive over the school parking lot on a test drive to see if I can control the heavy bike. I lean slightly to the left to break into the driveway, and the Harley tilts with me. I jiggle my butt and she sways easily back and forth with me.

My Harley and I are dancing together across the parking lot. Wind rushes over the windshield and over my face. Strands of hair tickle my neck. I accelerate and leave the parking lot.

I brake in front of our garage and hold up my left hand. Dwayne slaps my palm with a grin. I explore the streets of our small town and often drive through our garage to share my Harley joy. Every time I pass, I see Dwayne sitting in the door in a garden chair. He gives me a thumbs up and waves his cigarette in the air. He sits there in the light of the street lamp and is the beacon I'm looking for in the dark.

MARY JANE BLACK: studied English and journalism as a student and then did a masters degree in English focusing on creative writing. She taught writing and literature in high school for 14 years, taking care of her students' voices while hiding her own. After long days of class, she spent sleepless nights writing stories in torn notebooks in her classroom and writing short poems on the edge of her desk calendar. Her first memoir She Rode A Harley will be released on October 1, 2019 by She Writes Press. Excerpts from it were published in the Shark Reef Journal and Oxford American Magazine. She now lives in Austin, where she works as a literacy specialist for the state of Texas. Visit her at

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