Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Like Riding A Bicycle

"I'm doooing it! I'm doooing it!" I remember screaming at the top of my lungs.

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.


Jerry said...

Oh dear Ally! You make me fear the inevitable growth of my children. I don't want to let go. EVER! LOL. Great post.

My Thoughts

Sam said...

Great story! You're an excellent writer, the posts are always so fluent.

This might sound weird, but I think it would be sweet to experience life as a kid whose parent worked at a correctional facility. My dad seems of the same vein as yours. He had the polos and went golfing every weekend. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just that it would be cool to experience something different. Oh gosh, I don't know. I didn't sleep very well last night, haha.. Sorry if this comment is gibberish. :p

Copyboy said...

Dang! I hadn't thought about my BLUE Huffy in years. It was the Midnight Special. My sister had a Huffy Strawberry Delight. So Enzo and Toto? Any idea where they are now? FYI...if you still have the Pony sneaks I'd ebay 'em stat! You'll get a pretty penny. Great post!!! As always you paint a beautiful picture of a cherished childhood memory.

Samantha said...

Great post! I love you compared letting go to being an's so true.

Ally said...

Thanks Samantha! It's true, right?

Copyboy and Jerry - so sorry, something happened when I switched domains this morning, your comments vanished - please do not think I deleted them.

Ian said...

Where's my comment - you delete that one too? ;)

Ally said...

Sorry guys, I'm having issues with Blogger assuming because I changed to a custom domain. Comments are appearing and reappearing. Very strange!

Anonymous said...

Hi. The Girl Next Door gave you a great shout here I am. "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" was a favorite of mine; I devoured Judy Blume.

Are you sure Dawn's father only "worked" at a correctional facility? For some reason he sounds familiar to me.

Am following if that's okay.

Anonymous said...

That was great! When I finally learned how, I was on my bike every waking moment.

There is something so joyous about making your own wind and going fast - I can't wait for summer!

Lisa said...

Hi there - I just dropped over from Sam's blog after reading your comment on hers. I like your writing style (great post, btw) and LOVED Judy Blume in elementary school in the 80s. Yes, I'm that old! LOL

I look forward to reading more. :)


Alice in Wonderland said...

Getting rid of the trainer wheels is just another step of growing up...but that sense of free-wheeling down a hill was just fantastic!
Wind blowing in our hair, it felt so liberating!
Gosh, I'm going to have to get my bike out of the garage!
Are we just getting lazy by using our cars too much?

Anonymous said...

Ah, the joys of youth. I remember the exhilaration of learning to ride a bike. I was about 30 and my son taught me. Ha ha.

California Keys said...

I wish I had a great bicycle story!

I remember being free to ride my bike as a kid, but my first bike was my sisters hand-me-down, with the streamers coming out of the handlebars and the basket on the front.... My friends always made fun of me for the streamers and basket, but I felt like watching the streamers blowing about in the wind made me feel like I was going faster than all of them. And seriously, the basket is just functional.... None of the other guys could carry stuff while they were riding their bikes....

I did get to add a few things to make it seem like it was more my bike than my sisters. Do you remember those little beads that you could put on your spokes that would make your bike sound like a motorcycle?

I Think It's Interesting

TS Hendrik said...

I learned to ride my bike on a gravel road. There's no fond memories there, just the recollection of picking tiny granite shrapnel out of my legs and arms.

Sam said...

Also, just letting you know, I left you some love in the form of a blog award. Hehe :)

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Living on the base, having a bike was like having a car. We could go any and everywhere and feel totally safe within the confines of the base.

Unknown said...

Okay... you're scaring me. Are you channeling me? I was just pondering what to write about for one of my next posts, and decided on bicycles!! Nice post BTW.

Melissa B. said...

Oh, the feeling of freedom! And of conquering yet another obstacle laid in the path of one's life. Stellar!

Pandorah's Box said...

You described my childhood in this post. My parents didnt want my training wheels to come off so I asked my friends parents to take them off behind my parent's back.

And it was so liberating to ride on two wheels. You are right though, it's hard to let go like that as an adult. It makes me sad!


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