My First Ride

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October 5th 2004
Published: October 5th 2004
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sunset wheeliesunset wheeliesunset wheelie

that's not my dad pulling a wheelie, but rather my buddy greg.
I flipped the newly installed kickstand down and let the bike stand on its own. The childseat over the rear wheel still carried the aroma of freshly extruded plastic, and I ran my fingers across the almost rigid surface, remembering when the plastic walls used to tower over me as I rode behind my mother. Or was it my father?

How many of my memories are shaped by countless viewings of the family photo album? Turn the page, and there my father stands astride his Canadian touring bicycle in front of the Pittsford parsonage on the hillside, a red plastic child's seat bolted onto the back. For perpetuity my father will be wearing a plaid wool shirt that bespeaks a brisk autumn Saturday in Vermont. My brother Calvin sits in the back, his grin still infectious through the barriers of a faded photograph.

My mother rode a yellow Schwinn bicycle, and the child's seat on the back was in a matching shade of yellow. I can still feel the diffused warmth of the sun's rays passing through the side of the plastic seat as I nodded away, clutching black Raggedy Andy to my chest.

How many of my memories are truly those of a three year old, and how many are derived from the family photo album? I have no recollection of being lifted into the child's seat, nor do I remember looking at the backside of my parents during those rides, although I must have done so for countless hours. What I do remember though cannot be conveyed visually, but is triggered by the fine texture of a plastic, translucent child's seat. I can still remember the feel of my face pressed against the side of the seat, the warm glow of the sun through the yellow plastic, and with my ear resting on the seat I could hear the reverberations of the clicking freewheel beneath me. My world confined on most sides, unable to stretch my arms open, strapped into a near fetal position.

A fragment of a memory.

A trace of a recollection.

I race now on my bike in search of the elusive security I felt so long ago. When the sun hangs low in the sky, when the air stirs cool against my cheeks, when the breeze carries the crispness of autumn leaves I come closer to that womblike space.


30th November 2005

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