Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Bike of Freedom

It was a force to be reckoned with. All chrome and wheels mixed in with a delicious blend of cherry red and creamy custard yellow. A banana seat and high streamer capped handle bars designed to work with me and the pedals to take me to the moon and back. Whenever I would step on and begin the pedal sequence, to my 7 year old imagination the wind in my hair was the feel of sweet freedom pushing me down the block.

With my bike came rules. I was only allowed enough freedom needed to ride to the corner of the block. Faithfully, with my imagination racing, I rode that path past the point of memorization. I knew every bump and every crack as well as the location of every deep edge off to the side of the walk. My little world began and ended with a multitude of daily pilgrimages to that little corner of my universe.

I was only allowed to ride on the sidewalk unless I was along on a ride with my mom. On rides with my mom,we took to the road single file behind her. And oh, how I looked forward to those mother-daughter rides around town. My sister and I followed behind her like little ducklings, learning the rules of the road and responsibility of handling ourselves in a mature and civilized manner. Our world became exponentially larger when we were allowed to explore with her.

Within the protective reach of or mother, we learned the route to family member's homes, how to cross busy roads, and more importantly, how to enjoy riding on tree lined streets. When we were allowed the luxury of a ride with her, there were no bumpy, cracked and peeling sidewalks marring the way and no corner boundaries. It was just the three of us,the breeze of freedom at our backs,and the steady smoothness of the unlimited expanse of road ahead of us.

Whenever I rode with my mother, I tried to be more grown up than I was. More importantly, when I was allowed to ride on the road I felt grown up. I felt at least 10. I soon began to recognize and know my way around town, the various routes to different locations and destinations. One morning after a trip to the town library and much begging, my mother agreed to let me lead the way home.

With two people riding single file behind me, I ruled the world on that bike ride. I puffed up with importance like a pride filled pastry. I led the way down the street, maneuvering out and around various parked cars, now and again glancing back to be sure my ducklings still followed. Of course they did. I was a brilliant leader and there was nothing to fear.

About half way home I looked back to say something to my mother behind me. The next thing I remember, there was a crown of stars spinning above my head and I was sprawled flat on my back on the road. A family full of people outside in their back yard were staring at me like I'd grown a second head. It took me a moment to realize what had happened.

Amidst all my puffing and bloating and leading, I'd glanced back just a little too long. I rode myself without slowing down into the back end of a parked car, smashing myself like a bug onto it's early 80's steel bumper before bouncing off and winding up in a deflated heap on my back on the road.

I wish I could say the first inclination of my beloved mother was to find out if I was OK. After all, this was the early 80's, a decade before the bounce-off-able bumpers of the Saturn car. Bumpers were there to stay. No budge, no give, no cushion. And I'd found my precious bike of freedom in a stand-off with one in all it's shiny glory and lost. However, that was not the case.

By the time I shook off the daze and got around to looking at her, I found her shaking uncontrollably with laughter, barely able to hold her own bike up. Apparently when her darling daughter rode her giant sized ego into a parked car without slowing down, it was funny.

Once I realized the humor of the situation, I was able to laugh right along with her. Running myself at full speed into a parked car WAS funny. And not just funny, but priceless funny. The kind of funny you still reminisce about occasionally even as many as 30 years later.

To this day, every time my mom brings up the parked car incident, the whole thing replays in my mind with the vintage tint of age. On that day, to this little girl, my beautiful bike of freedom truly took me to the moon and back, and allowed me to see stars. I even managed to learn a few life lessons.

Leadership means you must provide the way for yourself as well as others.

Worry more about the road ahead of you and less about what lies behind you.

It's important to be able to laugh at yourself on occasion.

Never let your ego get too large, for it will most certainly be deflated for you without your consent.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, even something that appears as benign as a parked car can pack quite a punch.

*Michelle at Scribbit graciously hosts a Write-Away Contest each month with a new topic and prize for each new month. The above blog entry was written as an entry for this month's competition.


for a different kind of girl said...

I love this post! So vivid and so fantastic!

I had a blue bike with a glitter banana seat, and I was always told to be so very careful. One day, without thinking (clearly) I raced down my driveway on the bike, right into the street, and right into the path of an oncoming car. I was frozen in the middle of the road. The only thing I remember was my Dad immediately behind me, yanking me and the bike back up to my driveway.

The next day, my bike had the bright orange flag attached to the back, and I wasn't allowed to leave the drive!

Scribbit said...

You tackled the topic exactly the way I would have--the freedom of that first bike is the most wonderful thing to a kid isn't it?

And your mom sounds like a hoot :)

Mom said...

LOL, LOL, I Love You! LOL, you couldn't have capture this moment any better. Great recall of the incident and yes of my reaction. Remember with your children when things like this happen to ask if they are "OK" before starting to break into laughter this should have been another lesson you learned. For some reason I was unable to get this under control.
Good Luck! Love Mom

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

Wonderful post! And how cool that you mom is computer literate and comments.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Oh I can't laugh! I want to scoop you up and ask if you are okay! (I guess you are, cuz you wrote a really nice piece here LOL)

MoziEsmé said...

I love the imagery of mother duck and ducklings! Glad you recovered fine from that fall...