This I Believe

Alexandra (Ally) - Bethesa, Maryland
Entered on September 6, 2007

I often borrowed my father’s bike when I rode alone — it seemed faster than my sister’s, to which I was demoted when my dad and I rode together. It didn’t bother him that I took it, as he was never one to value material possessions. He even consoled me when, with downcast eyes and a remorseful expression, I told him that his bike and the car rack I also borrowed were gone for good. “None of that shit matters,” he said, patting me on the back.

Following him around the store, looking at new racks, I believed him that material things didn’t matter, but I knew other things did. I lied about why the bike and rack were gone. I said they were stolen, but that implies a lot less fault of my own than is true. Late one night, I careened home, so focused on reaching my bed that I didn’t give a thought to cautious driving. As I barreled down the road, I let a tree branch snag the bike and rack off my car, throwing them into a dark yard just minutes from my house. When I drove back in the light of morning, someone had spotted an opportunity in my brazen sloppiness.

My dad asked the sales person for the cheapest rack they had. In life and back rikes, he doesn’t ask for much. He doesn’t even ask for complete honesty from his five daughters (“There are some things your parents are better off not knowing,” he told us once). But I believe his stoic words and steady examples have garnered more respect than demands could ever elicit. While he never asked me to look up to him, he said enough smart things to make me think he was perfect, and wisely let me keep thinking so until imagined perfection was the only kind that mattered.

And now, at 24, I’m sure there are some things he’s better off not knowing. I also know that when I can’t tell my dad the truth, I’m not being the person I want to be.

Maybe someday, when I let the night swallow up my dad’s material possessions simply because I’m too reckless or unwise to care for them, my pride will be so easy to swallow. But I believe there’s another way to make the truth easy to tell. Maybe the trick to living a life of more honesty and less complication is to drive as if I’ll have to tell my dad the details when I get home.

Thankfully, my father has been able to use my sister’s bike, one of only slightly lesser speed and virtues to his own. I’m stuck with a 9-year-old honker with no shocks and a seat like concrete. I’m happy enough, anyway, to take things slow. I guess it’s only fair, and I believe I might be more truthful, and happier, for it.