“Let’s go!” I yelled to my dad as I tied my shoes on the porch step next to my mom. He replied something, but it was muffled. He was in the garage bent over a pile of tools thrown under the work bench.
When my shoes were tied I ran into the garage over to the white shelving unit that held all of our sports equipment, sand toys, and frisbees. Behind it my pink helmet with a “AAA” insurance sticker dangled on the wall. I grabbed at the helmet but couldn’t reach it.
Today I’m going to ride a motorcycle, I thought.
My dad stood up, exclaiming, “I found just what we need.” He was holding a tool of some kind, something silver. I didn’t know what it was but I didn’t need to know – all that mattered was that it was going to get the job done.
My giant dad towered over me. He was my favorite person. Still is. He has brown hair like mine. And skin like mine. And eyes like mine. He placed and buckled my helmet as I smiled up at him. The snap of the plastic pinched my skin under my chin a little but it didn’t hurt much.
Then he turned to do the surgery. One screw loosened and so did the shame I felt yesterday. A wheel off and fear of going without it started grew in my chest. Another wheel off and fear mixed with a nervous excitement. My blonde-haired siblings were already riding in circles on the drive way and up and down the sidewalk on two wheels.
If they can do it, I can do it too, I thought.
My dad right behind me, I led my little pink bike down the driveway to the sidewalk near the street.
He held the bike while I climbed on. He talked me through the game plan. He told me what to do. He let go. I was pedaling. I was doing it!
Five feet later I was falling! My stomach jumped up and my head lurched back. The world tilted and the sky became grass. The foam in my helmet creaked when my head hit the grass. I was shocked. My bike laid over me so I couldn’t get up.
I felt the bike lift and my dad pulled me up with his hands under my arm pits. My mom knelt in front of me to wipe the fresh dirt stuck to my face. Pads protected my knees but my hands were red. The heels of my palms glowed with a sore red pain where I caught my fall on concrete. I was jolted but not discouraged.
I tried again. And again.
My mom cheered from the porch where she sipped her iced tea. She likes to call, “Woo woo!” when she is excited for us.
I kept the bike steady for longer and longer periods. First ten seconds, then half a minute, a minute, then a few minutes.
Then I was no longer trying. I could just do it. I made it to the stop sign at the end of our road. I could steer and turn. I could pedal fast too.
The wind pushed my dark brown bangs against my forehead. My ears were filled with a whistle and boom. I squinted into the sun. I was a bird slicing through the atmosphere. I felt tall as giraffe. I felt powerful as an elephant. I felt unstoppable as a lion.
The sidewalk in front of me disappeared behind me again and again. I followed behind my siblings like a straggling baby duckling. I watched my brother’s blue New Balance sneakers move up and down in front of me then hold. I tried to match the exact way he pumped his legs and glide when he did. He crossed big bumps in the sidewalk fearlessly, so I did too. My sister Megan’s blonde pony tail whipped around as she checked to make sure I was close behind. Corinne, her twin, turned off the sidewalk and circled through the street back behind me to ask how I was doing.
I felt great. I felt something new that was different than just the pride and exhilaration of trying a new thing. Whatever feeling this was, it was a good one. It was like a secret that was so good it was easy to let slip out. I gave it away with the smile on my face and the way I held my head high.
Now, I’m a real motorcycle rider, I thought.
I biked all around the block, which was shaped like an Indie 500 circuit. I imagined all the kids watching me from their bedroom windows and pointing with awe at my speed.
The next day I still felt different. My kindergarten friends from the block were gathered on my driveway, the neighborhood bus stop. I confidently rolled down the pavement on two wheels, ready to race. I was now a member of the “gang.”