“I’m tilting! I’m tilting!” was all I could say as I gripped the handlebars of mis amigas’ lowrider…I mean, recumbent…bicycle last weekend. Tocaya jogged alongside me on the bike path as I tried to stay upright, both of us laughing our asses off. Since I never learned to ride a bike, my amazing amigas—who I’ve known since our first year of college when we were roommates in the “Latina quad”—decided they would be the patient ones who would teach me…before I turned 31 the following Monday. I’d had other lessons before. A few years ago one my colegas rented a bike for my birthday, but they didn’t have any small enough for me, so I left that parking lot with bruised shins and bruised crotch. Ay.
In the springtime before I turned 8 years old, my parents got me the best bike ever! It was pink like strawberry milk, with a white basket in front and red, pink and white tassels on the handlebars. Strawberry Shortcake—my favorite—graced the basket. I rode it up and down our street—a dirt road with a dead-end—but I was afraid to take off the training wheels. A few months later I got real sick and spent a week in the hospital. “No climbing trees, no riding bikes,” said Dr. Pinkerton who looked like the Pink Panther. “Not until we’re sure you are better.” The next summer we moved and I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike on the street because, for some reason, cholos liked to have their drug deals go down right in front of our house. And, well, I was a girl. My brothers got to explore the neighborhood in ways I never did, even though they were younger. In the meantime, I got to read books…lots of books. So I never learned to ride and Strawberry Shortcake sat, rusting in the shed out back.
Last weekend, mis amigas and I decided that if I learned to ride the recumbent, we wouldn’t have to rent one. And besides, it’s the only one mis amigas had that could adjust to my very small stature. After a brief trial run, we changed our minds and headed to the rental place where the hipster dude recommended a cute little pale blue bike—just my size.
I’m not sure how much time passed—maybe 2 or 3 hours. But I learned how to ride. I had great teachers. And while there wasn’t enough time for me to master the ability to ride in a straight line so that we could hit the bike path, I felt the wind in my hair…as I rode circles and circles in a parking lot. I almost fell off a couple times, but I never once fell on my ass!
31 is different than 30. 30 is exciting—it’s almost not even not-twenties. 31, however, is definitely, firmly in the thirties. It’s sort of anti-climactic really. But 31 is going to be a great year, I can feel it already!
* This photo was taken from Mount Tom in western Massachusetts. I don’t have a photo of the bike path, but I took this photo looking toward the bike path. I know…I really think ahead with this blog thing.
**I am, of course, reminded of Cindylu’s love for the number 31. I wonder what she will write when she turns 31.