Sunday, August 7, 2011

Delusions of flying

Kate, all grown up and appropriately padded, gets after it once again with better results.

(photo: Abbie Wade Photography)

When I was in third grade, I had this awesome blue bike that my mom and step dad had built for me. They found the frame at the dump, and rebuilt it in the garage all by themselves. My mom, who was a fabulous free spirit, a neo-hippie painter, took her high powered airbrush that she used to make fabulous sculptural paintings and gave my bike a beautiful metallic blue sheen. My step dad, a tinkerer, inventor, and creative in his own right, retooled the mechanics.

I had no idea that they were even working on this project, and on my birthday, when they rolled it out, I was blown away. I rode that bike everywhere. I rode it so much that I even got good enough to ride it with three of my friends perched in various locations as we went downtown. It was our car, a Kate powered car, covered with giggling, surly, rebellious Tweens. We rode that bike until we were smoking cigarettes and lurking in the alley of the varsity, when I finally got a ten speed.

The bike for me was freedom. I remember, before I became discontent and angst filled, I was riding my bike, dangerously and against the rules, all the way across town to my dad's house. I hadn't left a note, told my folks where I was going, I just hopped on my bike and went. Trouble be damned. I didn't care.

As I passed the park down by my dads house, I saw a big six foot jump that the high school kids had built. I had seen them launching themselves off this jump and twisting their handlebars in the air. They looked like superheros. They looked like they were flying.

I looked around. The park was empty. The sun was going down. There would be no one there to make fun of me for wanting to go off this jump there would be no one there to tell me it was audacious or wrong for a little girl to want to jump a bike.

I pedaled hard. Right at it. I knew I wanted speed, I knew I wanted to fly. I hit the ramp and went hard off the top. I did it, I was free, I was flying, I was in the air. I twisted my handlebars like id seen the high school boys do.

I landed in that same position, forks turned toward the street, bike still facing the oak tree ahead of me. The forks snapped in two, my chest hit the handlebars, my face hit the dirt, hard.

I laid in the dirt, stunned.

My face was numb, I didn't even really comprehend that I was hurt. I could taste and feel the grit and dirt in my mouth. I wondered about my knees,
Chest, ribs, the palms of my hands, which I eventually pulled out of the dirt and looked at. They were shredded, little pebbles embedded under the angry flesh.

I looked around. There was no point in crying, there was no one there to help me. I was miles from my house, still a mile from my dads. I looked across the street. Years ago, during happier times, my sister had a very best friend in the whole world named Margo. She lived directly across the street.

If she was home and remembered me, I might have a ride home. I saws embarrassed to drag the twisted and broken carcass of my bike across the street, my hands hurt too much to wipe the dirt off my chords, and in shame, (I knew I shouldn't only visit when I needed something, why hadn't I come by and said hello before? I loved this family, I thought of them often, I missed them. But I never visited without my sister, they we're her friends, not mine.) I walked to her door and rang the bell.

The door opened. Margos mom opened the door and the look on her face said everything. I was a mess. She was horrified. But not at the danger, the bad choice id made or the fact that I'd broken my precious bike. At my muddy face and bloody hands.

She hugged me, pulled me close and tried to bring me inside to wash up. I was pulled so hard by her love, I wanted so badly to go in and cry and have her clean my cuts and care for me. I was craving it. But something in me had become hard, and I knew i needed to get away from there, to get home, to face the music, to crawl into the bathroom and clean off my knees, make my wounds seem less bad, I was already going to be in trouble for riding across town when I wasn't supposed to, now there were a list of reasons why.

It was many years before I tried to jump a bike again, in fact, while I rode a mountain bike in lots of fun and exciting places, I never dared, until last weekend at winter park, to find myself airborne.

Yup, the winter park story is coming! Stay tuned...

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