Tonight I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time.
I rode a bike.
Aside from a brief and nerve wracking attempt this past November, I have not ridden a bike since February 21, 2001. That was the day I was hit by a car and my life changed forever. As a matter of fact I couldn’t even tell you what my life would look like had I not been hit that day. The scenarios are endless. At the time I was a freshman in college. I was undecided, considering a psychology major. I was talking to a recruiter about joining the Army. I wanted to be an FBI agent. I was considering transferring to American University in Washington D.C. . And then, while riding back to my dorm I crossed the road–a road I had crossed a hundred times before–and I got hit by a car.
Before you ask, I don’t remember it. I remember stopping, starting to cross, and seeing the car. The next thing I remember was the cold feeling of the surgical scissors against my leg as they cut off my jeans. I won’t go into the gory details, but it is sufficed to say I was no longer Army material, nor FBI. I decided to major in writing instead because I was good at it and it came easily. I never transferred schools, never left Pittsburgh. Married a boy I have known since I was a youth. Bought a home 10 minutes from my parents, 5 minutes from his. Had kids. Couldn’t be happier. Still haven’t figured out my career. Never rode a bike again.
Until today. I wasn’t scared, at least I never thought I was, I just didn’t have a bike anymore and so I never rode. Tonight was scary. When I first got on the bike I felt like a kid who had just had their training wheels taken off. I was wobbly and unsure. The thought of riding on a road with other cars kinda made me queasy.
But when we got on the trail and we started to ride it was like finding a piece of me that I had lost. I was flooded with memories of riding on the dirt roads at my parents’ cabin down to the ice cream shop to buy pop that came in glass bottles and the small excitement of going over a pothole without wiping out. It felt liberating and almost forbidden to be having so much fun while someone else watched my children. I had forgotten the simple joy that riding a bike is.
This was piece of me I thought I would never get back and that was what scared me the most, but there is a reason they say things are “like riding a bike.” It will come back to you in the end.