As children, my twin sisters, who were the oldest of my family of six, were largely responsible for our well-being. This is because my dad spent much of his time romping about the neighborhood getting piss drunk, and my mom had to work two jobs and nearly 16 hours to keep up with the never-ending pile of bills.
As such, the twins were charged with making sure we had milk and cereal to snack on with our Saturday morning cartoons. To get this, they would ride their ten-speeds down to the area grocery, always opting to take along one lucky individual. And today, that was to be me.
The rack that protruded from the seat was quite cold under my behind as we raced and bumped down the road. I had to work to maintain my grip with slippery gloves on.
"How do you actually ride these things," I asked as we bounced back into the driveway, a jug of milk balanced precariously on my head. "You wanna try?" "Uh no, I'll fall!" "No you won't, just hop up onto the seat and see if you can maintain balance."
I gave it three good-hearted attempts, but unfortunately bike and scrawny kid toppled into a tangled pile every time. "Ah, I'll never get it," I said as I started to cry and stalked off into the house.
Over the next few days, the sister who was closest in age to me worked to get me more used to the bike. Since she was smaller than the twins, I could sit directly behind her on the seat with my arms around her as she pulled. "You feel how I keep my body erect as I pedal?" she asked. "You just have to have the confidence that the bike will remain steady as you move it. It's very mental." Yeah, right. All I knew was I wasn't trying that again.
After a few more of these lessons, she managed to get us to switch places, and I put my foot to the pedal for the first time. "Don't worry," she said: "I'm right behind you. Just stay steady." I inched forward, but after a few seconds I was flying down the driveway. She and everyone else began cheering.
Sometimes, as my mom cooked, she would stand at the window overlooking the sink and watch us playing out in the yard. She claimed that this was the best therapy for her tired mind, reveling in a time when life was simpler and things still made sense.
On this particular day, I'd been practicing pulling my sister for quite a while. She made the decision, without telling me, that the next ride I took would be solo. Somehow she managed to slip off as I sped on down the drive. "Hey!" she called from a good distance. As soon as I realized what had happened, "boom!" I hit the ground.
However, once I collected myself I knew that I could indeed ride alone. I sped around and around the drive, all fear completely gone. My mom said her nose was pinned to the glass as she watched, with silent tears streaming down her face. "Your blindness doesn't have to limit you," she always said. "You can do anything the rest of them can, if you really want to do it." This was a manifestation of her dream for me.
It seems as if I've written this story before, but if I have it wasn't in Idol or even in my Live Journal. I may have done so in snippets when commenting to people. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed it. And as a bonus, because it's the holidays, I'll link you to one I would have told if I hadn't already done so. It was the recounting of my first snow for a homework assignment on National Public Radio. It's a cute story, and it very nearly got me on air.