I was the only one in my family of five without a bike to ride.
Riding my bike when I was younger was fun. I had an orange Huffy with a banana seat. It had a white plastic basket with various colors of plastic daisies decorating it. My friends and I would ride around the neighborhood, toting our favorite little things in the baskets, and occasionally falling and skinning our knees.
As a mom, I now watch my children conquer their fears and experience the freedom that comes with mastering the skills of riding a bike. They all pretty much have the bike thing down, even Julian, my reluctant bike rider. He is nearly ten years old and just yesterday finally admitted how much fun he's having. He is also nursing a skinned and bruised elbow, but I don't think it will deter him.
My hubby is so stoked for us to go bike riding together as a family. He has been anticipating this since the day we said "I do" in our new home together. After four summers of hard work, falls, skinned elbows, tears, encouragement and frustration, we finally have all three kids comfortable and confident on their bikes. Only one thing was missing: a bike for me.
After searching Craigslist and various stores, we go to Target to find a bicycle for me- my first in over twenty years. I know what style I want: what I call an "old lady bike". One with a lower, wide seat (for my sort-of wide seat) and higher handle bars. Hubby says I need gears. I joke about wantng a basket with a puppy inside. With those criteria, we check out a few of the selection.
And then he sees it.
And then I see it.
It's the style I want.
It is an obnoxious shade of pink.
And fenders. Fenders!
And a basket.
Hubby gets it down for me and I try it out. The front part of the seat is tilted bizarrely upward, but I look and am convinced it can be tilted down.
The ten-year-old me is giddy with excitement over the possibility of going home with this bike. The thirty-something mom me wonders if I should choose something more...dignified. If that's a word one would ever use to describe a bicycle.
My husband spots a different bike. It is definitely a more subdued color- a deep, matte plum. The seat is smaller, and it has shocks, which kind of freak me out as I hop on to feel it out. The handle bars aren't quite where I would like them, but Batman shows me how they can adjust.
Both bikes have their pluses and minuses. The "practical" one is more expensive. I worry about my tendency to choose impractically based on what's pretty or sparkly. Straddling the ridiculously pink bike, I ask Batman if I will look silly riding this one.
"Yes", he says, without hesitating.
He is smiling, but he voices his honest opinion.
And then it happens.
A gentleman about a generation older than me walks by, sees me straddling the Ridiculous Pink Bike, smiles, and says:
"That thing come with a bell?"
He laughs. Batman laughs. I laugh.
I bury my head in my arm, laughing, turning red. I am simultaneously amused and embarrassed. I am mentally transformed into the young teenager who was cruelly teased so often for everything and nothing at all. Still laughing and still embarrassed, I tell Batman I will get the other bike. The sensible-for-a-thirty-something-mother-of-three bike.
"That really did it for you?" he asks, amused. "That really cinched your decision?"
I nod. I once again try out the practical bike. I'm not convinced the handle bars can be adjusted the way I want. And I'm frowning.
And then I know.
I look my husband in the eyes and tell him I am nearly forty years old and I don't care what anyone thinks- I will ride whatever bike I want. I will ride around our neighborhood on whatever bike makes me happy. And today that bike is Ridiculously Pink and has a basket and fenders.
And it makes me happy.
My husband smiles at me.
"That's my girl."