Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Red Bicycle By Kathryn Magendie

I've been thinking about my red bicycle. It was the first bike I'd ever owned, and it was a beaut. The brand escapes me, for I didn't care about brand then; I only cared that I finally finally owned a bike. It was used when my parents bought it, for we didn't have much money and there were five kids to feed and clothe. And just as I didn't care about brand, I didn't care that it was a used bike, it was grand and it was red and it was mine.

My brother Mike, being the oldest, taught me how to ride it. I can see his face, big brother smile, his teasing left behind for another day, as he said, "You can do it, sister!" He'd push me and away I'd go, glee and terror masking my face. I'd turn to make sure he was still behind me and he'd say, "Stop looking at me and look at the road ahead." After many tries, I finally did trust that he'd be back there until I gained my balance and I concentrated on the road ahead...until that moment when he let go.

At first, I didn't know he wasn't behind me, guiding me with his big brother boy hand. At first, I was only intent on learning, on making him feel proud, of gaining my independence even if I worried about skinned knees or my face hitting the road. When I finally glanced behind me, with that sense that something had changed, I saw Mike's grinning face receding...I was riding! I was doing it! I was doing it all by myself! The wind blew cool on my face. My hair fanned behind me like a flag. My feet pumped the pedals. My arms guided the handles. I was riding my red bike, my first ever red bike. All by myself. At that moment all was right with the world, nothing was better.

After that day, there were many adventures on my Red Bike. I was free to follow my brother, or ride alone along the Shreveport neighborhood I lived in. Sometimes we rode laughing giddily behind the mosquito trucks, the poison filling our lungs; who knew we were doing something that could be dangerous? In the warm rainy days, we'd ride through puddles, the dirty rain water splashing our backs as the wheels churned. My red bike. My big brother who taught me. Memories I am thankful for. Yes.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Great post, Kat! I remember my first bike too. Good friends of my parents (the wife now gone from cancer) bought my twin sister and I each a chance at wheeled freedom when we were kids. Our family didn't have money for things like bikes either...four of us born close together, our Dad still in grad school working various jobs. Those big, blue bikes -- something I'll never forget -- or the people who bought them for us either.

Anonymous said...

ranger dan had a red bike, too. a "rollfast," and it did. i remember that was how kids got to each others houses to play (stickball or football in the street, not video games). and raced to see who could go aroung the block the fastest. yep, old ranger dan remembers.

Barbara Quinn said...

I had a big clunker of a bike which was probably a good idea since I took lots of tumbles. I used to dream about getting a Schwinn. And I remember well riding in back of the DDT trucks on my tricycle. Nice trip down memory lane.

Nannette Croce said...

How far we went on those bikes––cooler than cars really, now that I think about it. When I started to drive my Mom always wanted to know where I was going, but she never bothered to ask where I rode my bike, just so I was home for dinner.

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