Training Wheels

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I am a child of the seventies. I played outside until darkness descended. I climbed trees and rode in the back of a Volkswagon Karrmann Ghia where there was no real seat or safety belt. I learned to swim with my cousin Francis in a little creek behind Aunt Mary’s house in upstate NY. We skipped across slippery stones to walk unchaperoned through the small church graveyard, and we both came home with poison ivy from the small wooded area behind the school. I remember lots of pink, sticky Rhulicream and baths in baking soda and oatmeal to stop the itchiness. Uncle Frank let us run the trains up the attic. Though at the time I didn’t realize it, it was an idyllic childhood. Then came the training wheels.

At three I rode a Great Dane, pretending it was my horse, but then I progressed. A red tricycle gave way to a two wheeler. I loved it. I was comfortable riding my mauve Schwinn. It was a hand me down bike form Leslie, my grandparent’s neighbor. It had short, fat metal bars with training wheels attached and a two tone mauve and white seat. It was girly but I didn’t care. I flew up and down the block pretending it was a motorcycle, a horse, a plane. I rode around the neighborhood, zooming in and out of the driveways. Then, I outgrew the little bike. All four wheels wobbled sadly as we passed it on to someone else.

It was spring. My ninth birthday. I was surprised with a twenty inch purple Schwinn. It had a floral banana seat and a white basket with flowers attached on the front. The handlebars were a huge U shape. Any other children of my time will know, these were pretty dangerous. The streamers danced in the breeze, whipping around my wrists, tying me to the bike. I think it lived. Those shiny handlebars had a mind of their own. (I received several black eyes from mine over the years). Well, this was a big bicycle for me. I remember standing on tiptoe as mu Uncle held the bike steady. Well, we rode in a circle around Dock Road, and then the bicycle was put into my mother’s car for the ride home.

You weren't anybody special without that floral seat option!
You weren’t anybody special without that floral seat option!

There were no training wheels. I needed to learn to ride this bike by myself. I could barley touch the sidewalk when I sat on the floral seat. I remember holding the back of the seat, the metal ring there just to balance myself. My mom came out and held that metal ring until she thought I was OK on my own. I was wobbly, but there were no training wheels – I was riding! So i went around the back of our complex. The hill dared me. I was brave. It started out alright, but then I gained momentum – fast. My legs peddling as fast as I could pump them, I flew down the hill, through the parked cars, across the street and was stopped by the chain link fence. As the chain caught the bike between those handlebars and the front wheel, I flew over the top, a black eye of course, and a bruised behind. And all my neighborhood friends saw. There were expressions of horror and fear on their faces, needless to say I did not land gracefully. But I shocked them all. I stood up.

I had an epiphany as I was tossed over the handlebars. I realized that life was going o be about flying by the seat of my pants. I had to decide if I was weak or strong. The kids in Queens were pretty tough. No tears. I picked myself up, picked up the possessed bike, and walked back across the street. I was terrified. I still wasn’t balancing without the training wheels. I needed them. No. I needed to show those kids that I was strong. I was not the little weakling who would be picked on. I pulled my leg over the chain, straddled the bike and started to pedal.I lifted my sore behind off the seat, ignored the bloody knees, and I rode that purple monster to the top of the hill and home.

No more training wheels. This thought went through my brain over and over. I was a big kid now. I had reached beyond my comfort zone, literally. That’s what I am doing again. But now, the trainers are on my blog. It is time to take them off and ride hard through the tough critics. I am branching out and moving forward. Not only will I post here in the safety my my comfortable blog, but I am going to be bold and brazen.

The time to make myself a voice that can be heard is now. I have already begun my journey. I am attending an online seminar for bloggers and freelance writers. I am learning how to promote myself, send in submissions that WILL be published, and hopefully, how to make some money along the way as well. Starving bloggers do not write well. We just think about chocolate and cookies. Today I am taking off my training wheels. I am sending my website live, a shout out to the world that I can stand on my own. I am writing – words from the soul, words to move you, words to calm you or make you laugh. I’m taking my time and building my strengths, becoming a little braver each day. I’m not scared of that hill anymore. I’m ready to ride, ponytail flying behind me as I swerve to avoid the chains and fences. Hope you will stay for the adventure.

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