Prophetic Purple Bicycle
The Christmas before my fifth birthday, Santa delivered a purple bicycle. The banana seat sparkled with glittery flecks of silver and gold mixed with the purple. My new bike outshone my little kid bike, a rusty orange hand-me-down from my brother. The new bike, however, outsized me by a fair amount.
Once the winter faded and spring days were steadily warm, I imagined I had grown enough since Christmas to reach the pedals. With decided determination, I told my mom, “Today, I’m going to learn to ride my bike.” She gave an affirming okay, and I was off.
Underneath the broad cover of seasoned maple trees, in the flat, grassed area of the side yard, I wheeled my new-since-Christmas bicycle to a starting place. Mom watched from the kitchen window.
I knew how to ride a bike, knew how to pedal and steer and go fast. That knowledge and experience had been limited to a much shorter, much smaller bike with training wheels. No training wheels this time. Santa had forgotten.
The task before me seemed possible and maybe easy, since I did, in fact, already know how to do it. With confidence and what I believe was informed perspective, I straddled the center of my girls’ bike.
The double center bars swooped down from the seat tube over to the head tube, as opposed the straight across bars on a boys’ bike. I rotated the right pedal, making it parallel to the top of the chain and ready for my foot. Pushing off with my left foot, I pressed into the right pedal and hoisted myself upward to help my bottom find the banana seat.
My eyes were fixed toward the edge of the yard, my destination. Before I could get my fanny onto the seat, the bike, having no momentum, began to wobble. I fell, crotch first, onto the top swooping bar. The bike toppled me and it onto the ground.
With tears, holding my bruised ego and my tender center, I barreled in the back door and ran to Mom. She held me and let my cry all the tears. When no more tears came and the pain eased, I dried my face and went back outside.
I walked the bike to the starting point, repeating the process. Right peddle ready, left foot push, hoist myself up, wobble, crash.
I don’t know how many more times I went inside and cried and then returned to the bike and the vision of conquering my goal. Mom received me whenever I ran in, angry or sad or both. She gave me encouragement when I decided to go at it one more time. I got a little further with each attempt, and that pushed me.
By the time the afternoon school bell sounded across the street and my brother began his walk home, I had indeed mastered the new set of wheels. I couldn’t wait to show him. While he had been in school learning math and spelling, I had l learned to ride my purple bike.