I wanted a bicycle so bad and was too young to do anything about it except hope that I’d get one for Christmas.  I had learned there was no such thing as Santa Claus and so I understood the relationship between how much money your parents had or didn’t and what you might or might not get for Christmas.  When I told my mama that I wanted a bicycle for Christmas she said they’d see.  Later on while helping her with the dishes one night after dinner she said “bicycles are pretty expensive” which I figured was a way of saying that I might better pick something less expensive to put on my Christmas list.  Still I was hopeful.  Another night Mama asked if I would be disappointed if my bicycle wasn’t a new one but one that had been recycled. Heck, no! I didn’t mind.  I just wanted a bike. I couldn’t care less whether it was old or new or dented or had an ugly paint job. I just wanted a bike.  So you can imagine my delight when on Christmas morning I found a beautiful maroon colored bicycle with a big red ribbon on the handlebars all ready for me to learn to ride. I could hardly wait to ride it.  I had been picturing myself cruising along on a bicycle for so long that it came as quite a surprise to learn that riding it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined it would be. At first my parents helped me on and then with the balancing of myself. Then they’d give me a push.  Off I’d go, a bit unsteadily, sometimes for a short burst, sometimes for several yards.  But the ride always ended with me out of control and flailing and invariably in the dirt.  Finally, my parents told me to just keep trying by myself – that I would “get it” eventually – that I just needed to practice.  And then they left me to it.  I whined. I cried. I hated myself. And most of all I hated that doggone bicycle.  I decided I couldn’t do it.  The bike was ugly.  If it had been new I would have mastered riding it more easily.  I lived in the country where there was lots of sand and the sand threw me off balance. If I lived in town where there were sidewalks it would be easier to learn to ride.  I hated everything about my life – even my parents who had abandoned me in my greatest endeavor.  I could barely contain my irritation at the supper table but I knew better than to be disrespectful.  I went to bed sour and out of sorts with the world.  I didn’t awaken the next morning in a better humor and refused my own silent mental goadings to get my bike and try again.  Instead I sat in my room feeling sorry for myself.  In the afternoon, my mama came into my room and asked if wanted to try my bike again.  I shrugged.  I didn’t have the nerve to tell her I’d given up and that I hated that bike.  She said she’d help me balance a few times but that sometimes people fell off their bikes before they learned the balance necessary to maintain the ride.  She tried to assure me that once I learned the art of balancing it would be a breeze to ride.  I didn’t believe her but I didn’t say so.  I just put on a jacket and went with her to the garage to get the now dreadful bike.  I pushed up the kickstand and wheeled the bike slowly onto the back driveway.  I could see the dirt and rocks waiting to greet me when I met them on the ground.  Perhaps Mama felt my hesitancy and she suggested that she would ride it first and I could watch.  I agreed and watched her push off and ride it around in a short circle.  I am ashamed to admit that when the driveway turned to sand I hoped to see her flounder.  But she didn’t.  Instead she rode on smoothly giving me tidbits of advice as she circled the yard.  Then it was my turn.  Inside my head I was sulking and feeling obstinate but I climbed on the Maroon Monster and began again.  Mama held onto the back of the bike and the seat, keeping me upright as I maneuvered down the path to the barn.  I could hear her running alongside me.  The bike felt unsteady for just a minute and then it didn’t.  The wind was in my face and I was gliding down that path all alone.  I was doing it!  When I got to the end of the path I wasn’t sure about the turning thing and I toppled over.  But when I got up that time I was smiling and Mama was running toward me laughing and saying, “Yes!”  I think she helped me get going a couple more times but I’d felt that balance thing and it had infused me with the energy to keep trying.  And I did.  I fell down a lot, I’m sure, but I stayed upright and balanced more than I fell.  I learned about turning corners, going up and down hills, riding through mud puddles and on graveled roads, sandy roads, and eventually on paved streets in town with my friends.  I rode that bike everywhere.  I rode fast and slow and laughed and daydreamed and felt entirely free.  And I loved that beautiful maroon colored bike.  It may have been used by someone before me but I know whoever it was never loved it as much as I did.  My brother inherited it when I discovered makeup and corsages.  Apart from that I don’t know what happened to that marvelous machine.  It should be in a museum somewhere with a sign that says, “This is what trying something new looks like.”

6 Comments

  1. catterel says:

    Oh, you brought back memories for me with this! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. heimdalco says:

    This post brought back so many memories of my first bike … mid-size without training wheels, not the smaller size that had them. My mom helped me learn to ride it just like yours helped you. She also helped me learn to roller skate but not by example. I don’t remember losing interest because I couldn’t balance the bike but I remember it was blue & white & later I got a basket for the handle bars. It was my ‘ride’ everywhere. Through your post I could feel the wind in my hair as I coasted on that bike down the hill in front of our house. Thank you for that ‘ride’ down Memory Lane.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debbir says:

    Blessed again by your words! Thank you for sharing. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Priti says:

    First biking is always exciting ! Well shared thanks 😊💕❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved how personal and relatable the story was and how you wrote it let’s the reader in to your interior thought process. And it has an arc of tension and resolution. I’d add paragraph spaces or indentations but otherwise a lovely post.

    Like

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