When I was living in the states. I met a man. He was from a generation I’ve always been curious to know more about. As if my soul yearned for the desire to have lived through the 1970s as a 20 year old. I knew the stories would be about music, partying, road trips and just taking it easy. When I looked at him I saw the history. He looked older than the good old days, but the stories still seemed fresh in his mind. They took him back in time and they took me back too.
After meeting Brillo, I soon met his garage. That detached building was a teleport to another dimension. I didn’t know it right away, but I needed that place. The room was filled with all his favourite things; bikes, cars and music. He was full of life in there. Bouncing around as I sat on a single stool, holding a beer he only buys for his guest since he doesn’t drink. We would be in there for hours as he shared his stories, music and advice to me; this young girl he’d only just met. I looked around at the posters covering the walls and pieces of bike parts hangings up with pride. Each time I went in there I’d always spot something new and intrigued to hear the story that went with it. I asked to hear them all.
I wish I could remember all his stories, or remember what it was exactly that made him the most impressionable person I met through my whole trip. He had a way to make you feel heard and understood. Something I aspire to possess. I never questioned his advice as I could feel it coming from behind two eyes and a heart that has seen history and life longer than I. It felt true and I trusted his wisdom. Brillo, you knew just what to say!
The story I’m going to share is about the title. Born to be free. On one of my days off I was sitting in the passengers seat of Brillo’s beautiful black 1935(ish) ford custom coupe. With only the road as our destination. He had a suggestion what I should see during my short time working in Rapid City, SD. I accepted and we showed up to a classic car show parked outside the biggest Harley Davidson store I’ve ever seen.
There we parked among other classic cars and I could feel his presents there. People respected him as he carried himself high. He was at home with the community he loved and in return, they loved him right back.
While walking through the store with a beer I took from the free beer stand, we started admiring all the bikes. Dreaming of which Harley would be the best for a beginner like me. Staring at our reflections of these perfect, untouched bikes. Wondering, dreaming if there would be a day where we could hang up the car keys and ride our bikes to destination no where instead.
I knew taking a bike home was out of reach so I just kept scrolling through the lanes, admiring their elegant yet rugged beauty until there was no more. The bikes ended and opened to the Harley Davison apparel. The place where my travelling self could bring the funds to purchase a smaller memory instead. Just then, a teal sweater popped out at me. I held it up, my size! We both stared at it together, reading the graphics on the back. There was ribbon with the words saying “born to be free”. Brillo looked up at me without any hesitation, pointed to it and said “Look Shelby, thats you!”
I often look at that sweater and know Brillo is still with me. I feel him telling me “Shelby, be free! Don’t waver, don’t let others tear you down, you know yourself, you are strong and you are born to be free.”
Brillo, I miss you.
Your memories and your stories are with me forever.