Remember your first bike? Mine was a boys bike that my dad took apart and painted yellow. It was already fantastic but the matching yellow streamers we attached to the handlebars made it superior to even my wildest dreams.
I named it buttercup.
The bike made me fast. It made me proud. Suddenly, I was capable and strong; Able to travel great distances and explore so many new places.
I remember racing to my best friend’s house, trying to beat yesterday’s time. As I rode, I felt free. Unconquerable, even graceful. I remember the day I learned to ride with only one hand; then no hands.
I don’t remember the day that I stopped riding my bike.
It must have happened around the time that my friends stopped asking to play and started asking to “hang out.” At the time, the difference in terminology seemed innocent. But looking back, it turned out to be loaded with all kinds of expectations.
Kids who play aren’t anything like kids who hang out. The hang out kind of kids don’t get dirty and scraped up. They don’t get lost in the moment and in their ever expanding imaginations. Hang out kids must remain constantly self-aware. When “hanging out,” constant comparisons of myself and others seemed to come naturally. In everything we did, there was a yearning to feel more adult… Which was frustrating because none of us were adults yet.
I missed my bike during the hang out days, but I didn’t ever say so, not even to myself.
–A Note To My Lovely Reader:
If you are entering, or are in the midst of your teenage years, or just never fully recovered from them, the thing you have left behind and are desperately missing might not be a bike. It could be a relationship, or a hobby, or a feeling. But no matter what it is, I say, find a way to get it back! These things that we love and that cause us to feel true passion and joy are important parts of who we are.
Also, if anyone ever asks you to hang out, see if you can find something better to do instead.