As I posted here not all that long ago (October 13--link to that post), I've realized in recent months that it's time to dismount from my bicycle for the final time. I've got balance issues now (curse them all!), and it's just not safe to be rolling around as if I were still 12 years old.
It was a hard choice. I've loved being on a bicycle since I first managed to "stay up" back in Amarillo, Texas, 1952-ish. I got the bike you see pictured above in 1995, a Schwinn, and have ridden it ever since, mostly just around town, though during the years I was teaching at Western Reserve Academy (2001-11), I rode it up to school (a few blocks away) every decent day--fall, spring.
When the snow flew, I would take it to the basement where it would wait impatiently for late March, when I would haul it back up the stairs, jam it into the car, and take it over to Eddy's in Stow, where I'd bought that Schwinn, and where I've had it serviced each spring since 1995.
Once I decided it was time to give it up, I offered it to our son and his family first--but they're all "biked up" for the nonce, so yesterday I put a note on Facebook: first come, first serve.
The first to reply was from Bill Cook, a student from Aurora Middle School in the late 1960s, very early in my career. I'm grateful that Bill doesn't remember all that well the 24-year-old me, trying to be a good teacher, failing just about every day ... okay, every period.
Bill--who loves fishing and hunting (and thus reminds me of my dad and uncles)--came by yesterday afternoon, the first time I'm seen him since, oh, maybe 1969? We had a good talk; I showed him a few things about the bike; he loaded it up ... and off he went. I'm sure he didn't see my tears as he was backing out.
I was gloomy the rest of the day as I struggled to accept yet another reminder that I Ain't What I Was. Or, more accurate, I Ain't What I Want to Be.
But so it goes in Mortality World.
Anyway, I'm glad Bill has it--glad for a personal connection--happy to think of him wheeling around on that thing that had brought me so much pleasure since 1995.
Let's end with this: I had one bad wreck on it. I was riding up to WRA one morning (in 2006 or so) to teach and, fortunately, was only inching along, when the front wheel caught in a crack in the road, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground.
There was no slow-motion-Gee-I'm-falling moment. I was riding. Then I was on the ground.
I was wearing a helmet, fortunately, so when my head smacked into the concrete, nothing cracked but the helmet. Some scuffs on my elbows and knees.
And a new appreciation--as if I needed one!--of how fragile, how evanescent all of this is. We're riding along ... until we're not.
So ... ride on, Bill, forever and ever and ever.
And I will be riding that bike, too--in my memory, in my dreams--the wind in my face, the future an endless road unspooling ahead of me ...
|yesterday with Bill Cook|