In the city storage was in the basement and set up by your apartment number, it was dark and smelled damp with mold and rotting garbage; making my nose burn. As quick as my small body could I grabbed the bike; pushing and pulling it up the steps finally getting it outside. I knew today would be the day I would teach myself to ride the bike.
Rolling it close to the step, so I could push off and obtain balance I gave it my all. Down I went in a blink of an eye. My knee was scrapped and elbow was bleeding; tears leaked from the corner of my eyes but I righted myself up and set the bike straight untangling the front wheel. This time I tried another strategy; leaning the bike against the wall and lining up the pedals so they would be ready for my push forward. I got off the curb, but wobbled and down I went after a few feet. Some more bruises, now my chin was scratched, the elbow and the knee were bleeding. I still wiped my tears and set the bike up again; for about two hours I continued to set up, making small steps in balancing. The barber from the barber shop came out watching me, after a few tries he was actually rooting me on. I didn’t like him much, something about him made me uncomfortable; later I would find out he would have women come in for a trim but locked the doors. Very questionable behavior for a seven year old to observe, my instincts were always on the money.
My mother didn’t come out and check on me, so I continue on my quest to ride this bike. Finally after hours, I took flight; I made it to the corner and tried my hardest to negotiate a turn and down I went, this time I really hurt. My chin had a steady stream of blood, my lip and cheek scrapped and the cement burned the palms of my hands. The other knee was now bruised and long scrapes from the sidewalk tore my pants; now you could see the knees were really beat up. Yet somehow I spoke to myself, “come on Jo you can do it. Get up, stop that silly crying and get back on.” With every ounce of strength I got up and mounted the bike, this time using the curb to push off. Within seconds I got my balance and made it up the block, around the corner and before I knew it I was riding. The faster I went the easier it got, I kept circling the block, testing the brakes and now actually stopping completely and starting up. The thrill of riding knowing I didn’t need anyone; the freedom of having the wind on my face. I did it! I am riding a bike all by myself.
Just as the late afternoon sun started casting shadows, I saw my father’s car pull up as he closed the door of the car he saw me all battered and bloody; riding like a champion towards him. I saw that crooked smile of his and he took one look at me “JoJo what have you done to your self?” He lifted me up, cradling me in his arms and carried me inside but I knew from that day on my father would always be proud of me.
Yes! Yes! Jo-Ann succeeded that day. As the year progressed, our family starting breaking down, only now I know my mother was bi-polar and my father who couldn’t handle the pressure proceeded to drink more and more. My childhood moved to a new stage of survival along with my siblings.
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