The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only
people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
—Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966)
A road trip from Jackson, Wyoming, to Sturgis, South Dakota, doesn’t take that long if you keep the truck at a steady 80 miles per hour. Which is exactly what we’re doing to make it to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally by nightfall.
“Are we idiots? Will bikers drag us off by our hair? How does one differentiate bad news from a mere investment banker in chaps?” I asked as we pull onto the road. Arnica’s been to the Rally before, but I’m a virgin.
“I’ve got a taser.” She holds up a plastic pink square that just as well could be a tampon case. “And I’ve got a .380 in the console. There’s a box of ammo in there and more in the driver-side door if needed.”
I found us angel wing necklaces for good luck. We’re heading to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Might as well make a wish and hang some wings from your neck. When the string frays and falls, your wish will come true. Thing is, we don’t know what to wish for anymore.
We’re in our thirties. We should know what we want. Instead, we only know what we used to want. Arnica wanted to be a Good Christian Rancher’s Wife, living on a cattle operation somewhere between Jackson and Gillette; I, a Conservation Project Director on some far- flung continent. But, in spite of our determination to make things “just so,” we’re not either.
We’re that age at which our femininity is purportedly defined by our status as wives or mothers or corporate career women with tailored skirt suits and the perfect shade of red lipstick. We are to wield one or a combination of these carefully narrated stories or risk falling between the cracks to the terrifying gray space between. Articles in magazines published in some place far away, written by women equally far away, tell us not to settle, to just settle, to not want it all, that we can’t have it all anyways. I’d like to take a box of matches and a can of gasoline to this heap of limitations. They’re not talking to us, Ladies Who Roam the Rockies. We’re playing the hand we’ve been dealt and dreaming up road trip schemes.