I don’t remember a lot of first days. My mind captures concepts more than details. I think that’s a protective mechanism I developed early in life. The devil is in the details, and all that.
But I do remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. Vividly.
I would’ve been about 6. A lot happened that year. I was a pretty small kid, so I had a small bike. An old bike, a bit rusty, with a banana seat. Legit. I had ridden only a short while with training wheels, and I hated those things! They slowed me down. I wanted to fly! So, my dad reluctantly allowed me to take them off and then stood in the driveway as I made my first ride without them. Because I did not want his help!
I rode down the driveway, wobbling and weaving, but determined to keep going. I weaved my way about two driveways over to the right of our house. I kept veering further and further left, until I had crossed the street, still pedaling, still picking up speed. And then, I took a hard left turn and rode straight into the curb. Bam! I was seated one moment, and flying over the front of the handlebars the next! My head hit a tall pine tree in the neighbor’s yard and I crumpled to the ground.
My dad came running. Even my mom, who was watching from inside, came out to see if I was okay.
I got up, fairly quickly, shook my head to clear the cobwebs. Then I checked to see if I might be bleeding, but I wasn’t. And then I started laughing! I was exhilarated! I’d done it! I rode my bike, on my own, without training wheels or any assistance!
My bike was somehow okay too. It was not a great bike, but it was solid and hard to damage. So I got back on, and rode some more. Still wobbly, still weaving, but keeping it on the pavement and staying clear of the curbs!
That’s when my parents knew for certain. I was one hard-headed kid, literally and metaphorically, destined to learn things “my way”.
The “school of hard knocks” kind of way.