Emily Nov 15, 2015
Every morning of my childhood, I would stand out by the road, waiting for the school bus. I distinctly remember the mornings we stood there and watched the sun come up. My sisters and I talked, swung our backpacks, and watched the last of the stars become swallowed by the sunlight creeping into the sky. The crowded, sweaty, smelly, sticky, steamy bus wooshed to a stop and the door would squeak as it opened. We clambered up the steps and started the search for seats. Once we'd settled, the bus would continue its bounce-roll down the long, straight road into town.
In town, we would look longingly at the sidewalks. The houses that faced the street with their pathways and wreath-clad doors always looked so inviting. I was jealous of the kids that were designated as "walkers" and could take themselves to school - by bike or on foot. On the bus, we were picked on. Kids threw stuff, kids swore, kids told dirty jokes. On foot, we could be free. We could get away from the other kids if we wanted to. We could be independent. We could be grown up.
I realized the other day that my dream came true.
My dream of living where the sidewalk could carry me from my front door to wherever I might wish to travel had become my reality. I can ride my bike to work. I can walk to church. I can walk to the bank, grocery store, the fabric store, four bike shops, a backpacking outfitter, two malls, local restaurants, umpteen coffee shops, and on the list goes. I can ride my bike from one end of town to the other, visiting friends within a 10-mile radius. (And that distance will only increase as I become stronger.)
The realization there are other ways of getting around town came upon me slowly. I had been of the mindset that adults drove cars. My high school years were defined by car trips; the first driver's license is a rite of passage into adulthood here in the United States. From then on it was a series of firsts: first license, first car, first car wreck, first late-night-on-the-freeway breakdown. My childhood dream had been forgotten in the hustle and bustle of growing up. In the back of my mind, I knew that people rode bikes to move themselves around town but those were the people that were either crazy in-shape, lived next door to their work, or were too poor to own a car. Surely I didn't fit that description.
How my thinking transitioned is another story for another day. It happened one small change at a time; the shift in my thinking was largely a subtle one. And then, I realized on my ride to work one morning that I was living my dream. I was using my bike to get to work. I realized that I didn't have to get on that crowded, sweaty, smelly, sticky, steamy school bus of adulthood known as the automobile, where people are cranky and impatient.
Instead, I breathe deeply, wave to the kids walking to school, hum to the rhythm of my strokes, and let the sunrise and stillness of the morning set the tone for my day.
Dreams do come true.