I met my soul face to face in Big Sur. Her name was Polytimi; she rode a Harley and wore all black with sunglasses. She traveled alone. I was traveling alone too, driving a car with nearly all my possessions in it, keeping the windows open to feel the weight of what was outside.
We were on the edge of America, Polytimi and I, carrying home on our backs. She drove her bike and flashed peace signs to the other bikers she saw. Whenever I’d pull over, on U.S. Highway 1, to take a photograph and cry, trying to understand why God takes our bodies too young and too soon, she was there too, photographing the steam-coated ocean with the rocks emerging from the surface.
But before all of this, before Polytimi became a soft sound, an echo, catching the remnants of my hard, heavy longing, before all of this, I stopped near a big metal bridge and made a wish to feel less alone. And then I saw her, dressed in motorcycle gear, photographing the ocean. This is what my soul looks like, I thought.
Before I could ask, Polytimi said, “Will you photograph me?” I said, “Of course,” and she drove her bike closer to the edge, the end of Stripes and Stars and the beginning of moon pulls, salt and all that blue. Then it was her turn to photograph me. I flashed a peace sign like I was also a biker on the open road.
When the sun finally set and the sky turned pink as a newborn, Polytimi rode passed me fast, and I knew I wouldn’t see her again. I stopped close to a beach and saw families of sea lions, heard their voices, and they were beautiful, a gift, like the voices we have, the voices we use to pray and love, the voices we use to start war and to end it. And then the sky closed its eyes. I fell asleep too, and woke up here, about to board a train to New Mexico, wondering where that strong woman has gone, if she’s still driving or has decided too, that it’s time to be a passenger.
Ashley Inguanta is a Florida-based writer/photographer. Keep up with her publications and travels at ashleyinguanta.com.
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