I was thirty-something when my bike was stolen. I ran up to my apartment for just a few minutes. Left the garage door open. How quickly things slip away. When I returned, it was gone. I called the police to report it. I remember thinking how casually he walked, this police officer, to my garage door. Like he saw it every day. Well… He asked for the brand and style of bike. I asked if they ever found them. “No,” he said. And then he proceeded to talk about how the drainage system in our garages wasn’t correct. So that was it? My beautiful bike was gone and we were talking drainage. He put the report in his pocket and left.
I stood alone in front of my open, improperly drained garage, and thought about my first bike. My beautiful banana seat bike that I pedaled into the ground. That I abandoned in ditches on VanDyke road. In the Olson’s Supermarket parking lot while I ran in to cool off in the refrigerated section. In the front lawn of the public library while I read for hours. On the beaches of Lake Latoka while I splashed until summer’s end. I stood in the gaping mouth of my open garage, missing much more than my bike, wanting so desperately to feel surprised. Wanting to be that banana seat bike riding girl, that girl who trusted everything and everyone.
I wrote about it — that beautiful feeling of trust — in my book, Leap of Faith:
“It was the greatest. All my friends loved it. (my banana seat bike)
But Ididn’t even need a lock for it. Nobody ever stole
bikes from the beach. It was kind of like our sacred
ground. . . and we knew that in order to get to our
sacred ground, you had to have a bike, and to take
that away from someone, to take away their chance
to fly on the way to that glorious one of 10,000
lakes, well that would just be a terrible crime, so
we didn’t do it. I don’t think I realized how beautiful life without
mistrust really was. . .How could I know?
You can’t. . .until it is taken away —
and only in those rare moments,
when you let yourself remember innocence,
can you feel the slip of beauty.”
I reread that passage often, and I think, as Joan Didion wrote in her book, Slouching towards Bethlehem, “Was anyone ever so young? I am here to tell you that someone was.”