When you’re little and you need to get somewhere fast, what do you do? You ride your bike, right?
I was no different. I learned to ride a bike at the appropriate age (ahem, Rachel), I had no trouble getting the hang of it, and so I loved riding my bike, just like every other kid in the neighborhood.
Our house was only a couple blocks away from a park, and we would often ride our bikes there. It was awesome, not only because we were going to the park, but also because there was a path around the outskirts of the park, and three of the four corners had raised curves to it, which made for ideal miniscule-rollercoaster-esque riding. (Can you see where this is going already?)
Back in the day, my parents had these big 4th of July parties every year, and on the day of this story, they were getting ready for said party. Mom was making that disgusting dip that had big green chunks in it (spinach and artichoke dip– yummmmmm), and Dad was mowing the lawn.
I decided I was going to go for a ride around the neighborhood, probably make a pit stop at the park. I opened the garage and rolled out my pink and green bike. I put a little snack and a water bottle in my basket, just in case I got hungry out there.
(Now, I know my parents knew where I was going, but guys, c’mon, are 9 year-olds really old enough to ride their bike around the neighborhood alone?!)
I hopped off and rode down the sidewalk
until my Dad couldn’t see me anymore. I turned the corner off our block, and casually turned my handle bars to guide me into the street, like the little rebel I was. (Ha! You think I was the kind of kid that rode her bike in the street when I wasn’t supposed to? Do you even know me?!)
I was speeding along, riding down the hill that led to the park, my hair flying out behind me. I was alive. I peddled harder to go a little faster. Weeeeeeeee! I put one hand up in the air as I flew down the first curve surrounding the park. (I never did learn to ride no-handed. SMH.)
I passed the softball dugouts and started peddling even faster as I approached the flat curve. I swung around it and continued on course to the hilly curve ahead of me. I was ready to feel the rise and fall, and I once again raised my arm in the air, the adrenaline pumping through my veins.
My bike and I were suddenly sprawled out on the ground. My water bottle was rolling away. There was a fiery pain in my left leg and my right arm. And, I was alone.
I started crying– actually, crying is an understatement– I started wailing, sobbing at the top of my lungs. Hurt, alone, and scared that no one was ever going to find me, and if they did, I would already be dead. So I cried and cried, still sprawled out on the warm asphalt.
After what felt like hours (probably a couple minutes), I heard quick footsteps.
“It’s ok, it’s ok, you’re fine,” I looked up and a man was on his knees next to me, a look of concern on his face.
I stopped my wailing and sniffled.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
“I think so.”
“Alright, let’s get you up,” the man said. “It sounded like you were really hurt! I could hear you in the house!”
I looked down at my scraped leg and sniffled again.
“Are you here by yourself?” I nodded. “Where do you live?”
“A couple blocks away.” I bent down to pick up my water bottle. Ouch. I whimpered.
“Does your leg hurt?” he asked. I nodded again, forcing myself to look away from my injury.
The man crouched down again so he was on my level. “Do you need help getting home?”
I shook my head, no. “I’m ok,” I reassured him. I’m sure my near-fatal accident had really given him a scare.
“Ok, then. Maybe you should walk your bike, instead of riding it,” he suggested. He turned around and picked it up for me.
“Thank you,” I said. I turned and started the walk back home. The man watched me for a couple seconds, and then he went back into his house.
The trek home was not nearly as fun as the ride there. The hill leading down to the park was a thrill-ride, but it was a long uphill battle to get back home. It didn’t help that I was also limping and pushing my bike as I climbed up its slow incline.
Turning the corner onto our block, I started crying again. My leg hurt, my arm hurt, and I’d had a very long walk home. I came hobbling up the sidewalk, tears streaming down my face. My dad stopped the mower.
“What happened, Peanut?” That’s when the real waterworks started up again. I dropped my bike and ran to my dad. (Hmm, my leg was suddenly healed from its limp.)
He kissed my booboo, brought me inside to Mom for band-aids, and wheeled my bike into the garage.
Of course, I had to ask my dad for his account of this story. Here’s what he had to say:
As I remember it, it was a warm–no hot, summer day. I was working hard in the yard mowing the lawn and picking the weeds out of the flower beds. Or I was smoking weed, not sure. All of a sudden I heard [our neighbor] Molly yelling, “Rebecca was hurt! She fell off her bike!” Molly was pushing your bike. Then you came around the corner crying, walking like you had broken your leg, hobbling and holding your arm. Everyone had a different story of how you fell.* It ended up you had a small scrape on your arm and leg, and you were never gonna ride the bike again.
Many years later, Katy and I decided to ride our bikes to our job as day camp counselors. When I asked my dad to take me to get a new bike for this endeavor, he said, “Are you going to come home crying and walking it again?” (Admittedly, there was one time I had to walk it home, but I wasn’t crying! That’s for another time, though, my friends.)
Be safe out there bicycle enthusiasts.
*I seriously thought I went to the park alone. I remember crying and the man coming out. Maybe the other kids found me on my way home? I don’t remember. Alas, that’s why the tagline of The Married Cat Lady says “mostly true.”