I got up on a bicycle this week. I don’t remember learning to ride. I do remember my bike with the banana seat, the colored straws on the spokes and the orange flag that waved above me from the top of a fiberglass pole. Learning to ride must have gone well or I would have remembered.
Traumatic life events are seared into the memory.
The day I wrecked a ten-speed without any brakes is seared in my memory. The moment I felt my toe catch in the spoke, I knew I was in trouble. My reflexes threw my hands forward as gravel wedged into my palms in a failed attempt to break my face-plant into a dirt road. My body lunged forward, the gravel shredded my lips, dirt filled my nostrils.
When I got on the bike this week, the first thing I did when I pushed it upright was to check the brakes.
Bad judgment caused me to wreck the bike I was riding when I was fourteen. By using my foot to clip the spokes with my shoe—letting friction slow the wheel’s momentum----I could hop over the high bar of the boy’s bike in a dismount of sorts. I must have turned my wheel ever so slightly into my breaking maneuver as I veered off the highway and onto Cherry Road to avoid traffic. The next thing I knew I was sitting there with rocks in my hands, rocks in my knees, and my lips were swelling. Behind my bleeding lips was a mouth full of broken teeth.
My sister was with me the day of my wreck and she was with me when I crawled up on a bike this week while we were away together for a few days of vacation. The bike was old school, one speed. It even had a basket and the brake was on the pedal.
We took the bikes out for a ride a couple of days ago in a beach town where people who don’t ride bikes ride bikes.
After riding a nature trail that took us over bridges and around a marsh and through a picture perfect neighborhood, we shoved our borrowed bikes between metal bars at the parking area and walked to the market for a drink.
A woman taking from the cooler at the same time, asked, “Sisters?”
“Twins,” I remarked.
“Lucky, “ she quipped.
Yes, lucky. I smiled and thought of how blessed I am to have had my forever friend.
We have lived a lot of life since that day when I wrecked my face on Cherry Road, spent all of junior high with my hand over mouth, and rued the day that I lost my smile.
We both have had to get back up on horses that bucked us off--- literally and figuratively. But we got back up and rode even when we were bruised and reeling.
I could have passed on the bicycle this past week, made excuses about being too old and out of practice, fear knotted to a distant pain. I could have let fear win. Instead I pushed up the sandy road, let the wind catch my hair, and worried for keys while I was in the grocery store with the bike parked outside. Leanne did too.
(Funny how you feel like you set down your keys when you didn’t even have them with you?)
We all have things that have happened in our past; one day can change everything, tie us up---keep us from pushing through, finding life, living joy in the moment. We cling to that which is routine, to things we are so used to having they seem to be part of us. But there is more than one way to get to the grocery store and sometimes you don’t have to keep up with the keys.
So thankful for a little time out of the routine these past days to get some perspective—to remember fear will only bridle me, keep me from living, if I let him.
I don’t live by the beach and I don’t see a bicycle in my future, but I wouldn’t mind climbing on horse when I get home.
Does changing up your routine get you out of sorts or does it help you get new perspective? Does trauma from the past keep you from living in the moment?