it is time to ride a bike

Months have become weeks, and while my response remains "I leave Sept 27th, but we're not talking about that" to anything Peace Corps related, I know it is time to face the fears and realities of leaving home. If you know much about me, you know that any fears I do have are completely irrational. I'm not so much worried about having to pee in a hole or working around diseases. I'm not overly concerned about becoming accustomed to a whole new culture, language and way of life. It's things like running out of face wash, having to use OB tampons, and my biggest challenge of the summer: riding a bike.

I am terrified of bikes. All kinds of bikes and all kinds of bikers. Riding a bike was a major part of my childhood, but the transition between little pink bike with streamers and a bell to an adult bike never happened. I haven't been on a bike for 6 years (which was one terrifying day in Germany) and another 5 years before that. I don't know where this fear came from, but the same goes for roller blades, skate boards, and pretty much anything with wheels (which includes driving a car, that's without saying).

On the Peace Corps application, I had to check a box saying that I knew how to ride a bike. I just received an email reminding me to purchase a bike helmet before I arrive. It's not enough that you are shipping me across an ocean to teach health in a place that is foreign in every way to me, but I must face one of my biggest fears.

I am presently being spoiled rotten by my grandparents in Florida - a quick break between my last day of work and getting billions of things in order before I leave. As my grandmother and I lie in bed after a day of beaching, movies, pool and jacuzzi dips, and a cheeseburger off the grill, I turn to her and casually ask, "Are you still up for a bike ride?" She knows what I mean. This isn't going to be a ride towards the Florida sunset. We make our way towards the garage, and I can already feel my heart pounding before my flip flops are on. It's the same feeling I get when Krystin or my dad pulls over, turns the engine off and says "get in the drivers seat." She takes the helmet out of the basket hanging off the front of her pint size green cruiser, places it over my head, and hooks it in place.

She wheels it down the driveway as I a lag behind. I'm too panicked to recognize how ridiculous the situation is, and instead try to convince myself the fear is all in my head. There is a perfectly paved road that lies between the 7 houses in front of me, and all I need to do is make my way to the end and circle around. I hop on and go as my poor grandmother watches, and I see myself falling over. I wobbled and stopped, wobbled and stopped, and then somehow made it to the end. I was even able to turn the bike around and come back without braking. My palms become so sweaty I thought the handles were going to slide right through them. And yet, I thought, if I could have a little green bike like this in Ghana, I might be ok.

And then my nose starts itching.

I told myself that while getting on the bike was a feat in itself, I wasn't going to call it a night until I scratched my nose while biking. As I did, I smugly brought the bike to a halt, and walked over to grandma. "All I have to do now is be able to maneuver in between crazy cars in Africa."

"Well, tomorrow I can borrow a neighbor's bike and we can bike through the neighborhood," she responds.

I cringed. "Yea. We'll see..."


Nicole said…
I hope bike riding goes well for you!

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