I got my first bicycle on my fifth birthday. It was a magnificent purple-tassled-training-wheeled triumph! There were a couple of crashes into the garage door when I first started learning how to ride it, but sooner than later, I was riding in the back yard without parental supervision, and had a smile from ear to ear.
My parents and I lived in Surrey, in a small house beside my Grandparents. Half a block to the left of our house was King George Highway, a 6 laned monster. To the right of the house was a merry little hill that I would walk up every morning to go to school. Across the street was a cute little indian family, including a boy probably 2-3 years older than me. I don’t remember his name after all of these years, but he was my best friend at the time.
For his birthday, not long after I had taken my metal circles of life (aka training wheels) off, the neighbour got a brand new mountain bike! I was overwhelmed by it’s beauty. This bike represented all that was beyond being an unimportant child, but a real, dauntless human being! One that thinks and feels and pedals off into the horizon! To infinity, and beyond!
Obviously, filled with so much wonder as I was, I asked if I could have a go at it. The boy said yes hesitantly. I jumped for joy, grabbed the handle bars, and directed the bike up the hill. I struggled to get my leg over the bar, ignoring the fact that the bike was twice the size of me. As soon as my right foot left the ground, the bike was soaring down the street like a jet liner. This was definitely a big kid’s bike. It felt so foreign not having the pedals turning as it went forward, and hearing the chain clicking as it went.
In that 10 seconds I probably reached 25 km/hr and the driveway was smaller than I’d originally thought. I pushed my feet back on the pedals to slow myself down, and to my disbelief, nothing happened! The driveway was slowly disappearing, and the highway was getting dangerously close. I twisted the handlebars in a cold panic, and toppled onto the gravel that topped the corner of the boy’s driveway. Face first.
My parents say it was the screaming that beckoned them from the house. When they found me my face was a bloody mess, as were my arms and legs. I don’t remember happened in between my fall and waking up to the violent pain that was shooting through every part of my body. What I do remember, however, was the emptiness in my mouth where my two front teeth lived. One tooth hanging by the gum, the other lost like a needle in a haystack somewhere in the gravel of the driveway.
Let’s just say, I was more upset about not having the tooth in exchange for money from the toothfairy than I was about being couch-ridden with pain for a week.