Monday, February 16, 2009

Letting Go

"Don't let go! Whatever you do! Don't let go!" My voice hinges on hysteria as the white streamered handle bars swerve wildly. "Are you holding on?"

The gap between our lawn and the sidewalk seems monstrous and a tractor beam emanates from it, pulling my skinny wheel towards it and ultimate doom.

"Don't let go. I mean it. Daddy, are you holding on?"

This bike, a fixed up and painted white, hand-me-down banana-seated Schwinn Stingray is a little bit too big for me. In the one picture we have, I am looking back and smiling while my dad, the refurbisher and proud father, stands to the side, ready to catch me, lest this head turn for the camera throw off my precarious balance. I can't see it, but I bet the kickstand is down. The date on the back of the picture says I'm five. The memory is a bit fuzzy, so my dad fills in some of the details.

"I was excited at the time to have you learn how to ride a bike," he says, conceding that perhaps the stand-on-your-tip-toes-to-reach-the-ground bike was too big for me. "We went up and down in front of the house. I remember when you saw the bike, the look on your face! You were excited; I remember taking that old bike and repainting it and putting it together and putting new wheels on it, cause I was good at that."

In the picture, and in my memory, it's warm outside, with the Utah snows melted. So the bike wasn't for my birthday, or for Christmas. I ask my dad what it was for; we didn't get presents unless they were for holidays.

He laughs, "I think I was excited about it and wanted to give it to you anyways; you know how I am with secrets. I remember taking that puppy right down apart at my dad's garage-- stripping down the paint, sanding it, painting it. I wanted to make it look new for you. I even went and got Schwinn decals. We made it an original type Schwinn with a long banana seat. That was the cool thing."

So in the picture, I'm smiling. But that's probably because the kickstand was down. (I believe in kickstands.) The feeling I have associated with the bike picture, the fuzzy memory, is a sort of shaky terror. And wishing my dad would have agreed to put on those training wheels.

My dad remembers it a little differently, "You were excited. I remember you crashed and burned, but you got back up on it. I remember you getting back on it, and when you finally got going, I remember running behind you and hanging on to it and trying to encourage you. I remember you giggling, but it might have been an nervous laugh, cause you were excited," says my Dad.

I remember the crash. I remember those big U-Shaped handlebars all tangled on top of me. But I fell on the grass. The grass that was always so green, and soft. I don't remember pain, but somehow a skinned knee is in there somewhere. That was when I started yelling, "Are you holding on? Don't let go! Dad! Don't let go." I tried to develop side vision, to see if he really was holding on. "Don't let go!"

"You did swerve and look back," says my dad. "And I said, 'Steph, concentrate.' And I do remember letting go. I remember you asked, 'Are you still hanging on?' and I said, 'Yes I am,' and I was right there by the side of you in case you fell, but I wanted to give you that confidence."

I knew it. When I was riding, in my memory, I knew my dad let go. But I kept asking, "Dad, are you holding on? Don't let go."

And he is running by the side of me, his long legs keeping up with my standing up peddle pushing, his hand hoovering over the back bar on the seat, but not holding on, and I keep riding.

Another Scribbit Writing Contest Entry. I wonder if a blog has ever been created just to enter Michelle's writing contests? This could be the first one! :) I swear, I'm trying to think of my own writing prompts, but really that's not my strong point.