I was doing it. Mom was no longer holding onto the back of the bike seat. Gone were the rusted metal training wheels. Gone was that clinkity-clink sound which always followed as I pedaled. Nope, this was a glorious day. It was just me, two wheels, the pavement, velocity and the air. I was one with the wind.
Sitting atop the plastic orange seat of my little maroon-colored bike, I remember thinking how it was truly a perfect summer day. The sun was shining. The sky was the bluest of blues peppered with non-threatening cotton white clouds. I heard birds singing, but remained focused directly on the concrete ahead.
Kindergarten graduation had come and gone. I was moving forward onto bigger and better things. First grade in Valley Stream awaited me. I firmly believed that it was of the utmost importance that I learn to ride a bike if I wanted to fit in with western Nassau-County-outskirts-of-Queens-city-style kids. No more sleepy country time Oakdale. This was the real deal now.
At that point, it was hard to think ahead to the serious bikes I'd one day own. I couldn't even begin to imagine that by third grade I'd transition into the big yellow banana seat touring-style bike! I'm not gonna lie, I thought I was so stylin' with my white plastic floral basket and silver bell attached to the handlebars. I decked out each handlebar with plastic pompom type streamers extending out each end. I loved that bike.
From there, I moved on to the big blue Huffy in sixth grade. With my winged hair and blue suede Pony sneakers, I thought I was so cool cruising around the Italian neighborhood of nearby Elmont with my boyish tomboy friend Dawn. I believed any girl with a one syllable name had to be tough! Dawn was a tough kid with a colorful history. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her dad who smoked cigarettes and worked in a correctional facility. He was nothing like my dad who wore pastel Polo shirts and boat shoes to his teaching gig.
We'd cruise the area innocently flirting with boys named "Enzo" and "Toto" -- their dad's typically owned bread bakeries or landscaping companies. Their houses were way too big for the allotted plots and oftentimes were guarded by one or two religious statues. It really made you think twice about breakin' out the eggs and shaving cream on Halloween. Seriously. How does one disrespect property watched over by Mother Mary?
I think back to that day on my bike--age five going on six in November. Funny how as a kid it felt great when someone let go. It was all about freedom and it felt so good to be trusted. Yet sometimes as an adult letting go isn't as liberating. Some days I want to hold on so tight.
As always, thanks for listening.