the yellow bikes

When I was growing up,  the first of June became an almost second birthday to me. It was, of course, my sister’s birthday – not mine. It was just that my grandmother felt my sister wasn’t good at sharing, and so I had to wait until her birthday to receive our big birthday presents.

The one year I remember the best is the year my grandmother got us new bikes. They were our first real two wheelers. We went to the bike shop just before my birthday in March and picked them out.

Since it was my birthday and I was older, I got to pick things like color and seat. I picked yellow. Maybe because of the banana seat? I don’t know. The banana seat, by the way, had multicolored flowers all over it. I was about to turn seven (or maybe it was six). I had interesting tastes.

We also picked out baskets for the front (again they had flowers), and an orange flag for the back for safety. Back then kids didn’t wear helmets. We also got horns. I don’t remember if we went with the orange honkers or the small round ones that went ding-a-ling.

Our bikes were identical. Again, so there would be no fighting. The only way to tell them apart was that my seat was higher. We both initially needed training wheels. I still remember that feeling when they were off and realizing my grandmother had let go and I was riding on my own for the first time.

Those bikes would follow us to California, and we would use them to get to school until I was in the eighth grade. By that point, people were making fun of them, although I was riding two miles each way to school with rarely as much as a flat tire. They don’t make bikes like that anymore.

Today my sister should have been 42 years old. She should have gotten something she picked out for her birthday. I do miss her, and so wish things could have turned out differently.

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