First Person is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Got a story to tell? Check out our guidelines on tgam.ca/testguide.
The bike was exquisite – all in retro style, like a bike in a movie.
To mark my only daughter’s 16th birthday, we decided to replace her old bike, a gift from my dad – her grandfather – four birthdays and 6.5 inches ago. She wanted a seven-speed weekend cruiser, in sweet lavender.
The vintage frame was the watercolor mauve of the lilacs that grew in my grandparents’ yard. Its slip-on design could handle all kinds of clothing, from sweatpants to summer dresses. The brown wicker basket was empty; my mind quickly filled it with freshly picked wildflowers, a notebook, a big dog-eared novel passed from friend to friend. I could imagine my laughing daughter – flawless – hovering all summer, all her life to come.
As I sat on the porch in the still hot sun, waiting for my child to wake up and claim his prize, my mind returned, there is a life, to a time when a girl in flared jeans and a corduroy hat had it. first bike.
A wheelie-bike, as it was fashionable that year, it was blue eyeshadow. It had a very high handlebar with shiny streamers that never get tangled; a long white vinyl seat speckled with sparks that caught and then reflected the sun. Training wheels, I remember, but I trained so hard one fell, and I was tilting the wheel on foot, foot to wheel on the pavement.
One day, that last annoying wheel came loose. I then remember my dad, sweaty next to me in checkered polyester, gripping the seat as I pedaled like crazy, soaked in adrenaline, because of course, by God, it could go either way and if it goes wrong, well …
So I flew, unhindered; a rainbow of bread pinches chik-chik’d in my shelves. If there was any comeuppance that day, the weather was good. In the picture taken of me with my bike, I was half an inch tall; in real life, I was a giant.
My next bike was a 10-speed, all-steel, drop-grip studded racing bike with tube shifters fused to the crossbar. It was gold, a shiny metal more C3PO than “Tuscan Sun”. I made it seem like I liked it – that I was the girl with the golden bike – but the truth is my dad was feeling miserable that day and it was one of two colors on sale . As I walked home to a group of pre-teens ready to play and judge, my mind frantically worked out the marketing plan that would turn that squalid bike into gold.
I ordered this nightclub bike in the 1980s, with my hands resting with relaxed coolness on my hips, suppressing the urge to rush onto the handlebars. One day, I rolled my hands free in cool tar, making a welt on my ankle in the shape of a cat. One day my first boyfriend double-crossed me at home. I remember I wanted the whole world to see it.
A few years later, after my high school and newly graduated, I set out to reimagine myself as the adventurous kind I felt I needed to be. I had some money to ride that summer and, freed from my father’s tax constraints, I acquired a sky blue ATV, a pragmatic purchase that still made me nauseous of excess. of expenses.
It had a nice square frame and big studded tires; finger brakes and gear lever gears that seemed to say “don’t let go”. It promised an off-road experience, although I never left town. This bike has carried me for over three decades, to more than one school and through more than one boyfriend.
I could not have predicted it but, as my cerulean friend entered his own golden years, he was also carrying my daughter, pulled behind him in a pull-up trailer and, later, in a child seat mounted on the wheel. ‘front, eyes closed, her little hands outstretched to receive the full force of the wind.
But as I was waiting for my beautiful daughter to wake up, it hit me – this blue bike still stood in my shed, the child seat bracket still screwed to the frame.
And my sweet mother’s heart sank.
I then looked at this new lavender bike, brimming with romance; waiting for its owner, who has just turned 16. I saw her fill that brown basket and cycle – to a life of beach walks and country trails, maybe to a boy or girl I don’t know, in a town I never have vue – making a living with choices that are not mine and memories that do not include me.
Because what is a bicycle other than a veiled rite of passage, transporting us ready or not towards whom we will become? And what wouldn’t we give to go back in time, to recover those sweet moments, fragments of time, long lost?
Months of recovery, we gave in to pandemic plans, full of fear and impatience and perhaps too quick to say no. Restore the days spent on grown-ups – deadlines, bills, rent checks owed – grown-up things that made bedtime routines just one more chore to do. Relive the opportunities we missed even decades ago when our own moms and dads yearned for time we just couldn’t give – we were riding bikes, learning to fend for ourselves.
How I longed to retire, then, to the simpler days before life picked up speed – when a bike was just a bike. When tired little legs only pedaled so far. When each day’s journey would end with a firm hugging and a sweet goodnight kiss.
And I knew what to do.
Before my sweet, alluring daughter could appear and close everything with a wave of her hand, I called the bike shop and ordered a seven-speed cruiser – sea green.
I knew I couldn’t always follow her, nor dissuade her from seeking her own path. That I had to fill my basket with my own projects. But I was hoping that a little longer – maybe a few more years – we could go on together.
Jenna Hall lives in Ottawa.
Register now for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and tips to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.