Getting around the town by bike, I relished in my freedom. I loved my up close parking spot, my lack of traffic, and the way I felt after a ten minute ride. I knew that I needed to live this way for the rest of my life. And, so, after a few years of married life, John and I moved back to Davis dug out our old bikes and immediately got back in the groove.
About four years ago, I got offered a job back on campus supervising student teachers after taking a seven year sabbatical to be a full time mom. It was a small job with a small paycheck but it was soul satisfying and wonderful to be working alongside earnest, enthusiastic and energetic beginning teachers. Receiving my first paycheck made me feel like a kid again. I suddenly had "my" money. It wasn't really enough to have it do something important but I wanted to be careful otherwise I might just fritter it away by putting it into my regular account and paying for the dry cleaning, groceries or hot lunches with it. I wanted to find something special to do with it.
One fall day, I was walking downtown and noticed a slew of bikes on display for the new students at UC Davis. They were a colorful line of beach bikes: purple, polka dotted, striped, candy apple red and sunshine yellow. I couldn't help but smile and think of the many new students experiencing their own joy of the roundabouts, the freedom of bikes and the adventure of college and being on your own for the first time. In the middle of that inviting line up I saw her: my dream bike. She was sky blue with daisies. I knew that was my bike in an instant and I wanted to take out my credit card and take her home. But, I stopped myself. This was going to be my special something to remember this special job. Every month, I would steal a little money away and save it for the big purchase at the end of the year. Every few weeks or so, I would walk by "my" bike and admire her. I would stop and notice which ones were gone. The yellow one with daisies was missing now along with the green polka dotted one.
Winter and the rains came and went but those bikes stayed outside serving as both a reminder and a temptation. In the spring, Caroline was toddling around and I knew we could both go bike riding. So, in celebration of my May girl, I took my secret stash of cash and walked down to my favorite bike store. I walked right in and didn't spend a second looking. I told them I was ready to buy a bike and showed them my old friend. The store owner looked at me and said, "All year I've been waiting to see who would buy that bike. That's our one and only blue daisy bike and they just stopped making it. You're getting a treasure." I smiled and agreed, knowing we were meant to be. They outfitted me with a baby seat, a helmet, and a lock. I took a practice run while they were totaling up my goodies. I pulled out my cash and happily paid them for my dear girl.
I rode home like a kid: making swirly patterns, sitting up straight with my upright handlebars, practicing braking by pushing backwards and feeling the rush of riding. She was "happiness on wheels" and she was mine.
That was four years ago. I still smile whenever I go for a ride, find her in a crowd of bikes, or talk to Caroline and feel the pat, pat, pat of her hands behind me. I know my days are numbered with my cherub riding directly behind me. She's itching for her own bike and her own freedom and who am I to deny it?
I know she will fall in love with the breeze of the ride, the joy of seeing the world at a slower pace, the smell of freshly mowed grass, spring blossoms, chlorine at the pool and a million other details that you only notice on a ride.
It's sunshine-y again and I'm going for a ride...honk if you see me. Or better yet, ring your bell!