I believe there is a certain liberty that comes with the road. It is almost instinctive for people of the States to live on the edge of life; with the comfort of an open highway up ahead and the right to breathe the asphalt — the independence, the hair-in-the-wind, I-do-what-I-want sort of freedom. I can almost hear the lyrics of “Born to be Wild.”
When my friends and I hit the big 1-6, we revved up the engine and raced to the DMV. One by one, my friends showed up at school with their new rides. Ralph had prodigious Yukon that fit the entire football team, and guaranteed a dent in his wallet. Rebecca had a 4×4 Chevy Trail Blazer, with the works. And, of course, there was the showstopper: Anthony’s 1970s cherry red Ford Mustang with a remodeled leather interior and brand spankin’ new engine. You should have heard that baby roar.
And me, you ask? I had a retro 2001 silver and red Huffy two-wheeled bicycle. Straight from the Target dealership.
I was car-less, and hence “missing out on the world.” My friends wondered why I’d ask them for rides or worse yet, why my dad would drop me off at parties. Gasp. They would innocently brag about how free they were. “It’s so freggin’ awesome to have a car,” they’d flaunt, “we can go anywhere — at anytime. It’s like the world has like suddenly opened up.”
My friends saw cars and licenses as an indication of maturity and adulthood. They saw bikes as toys for toddlers. They saw the girl huffing around town as a kid that might never grow up.
I adhered to the American tradition of calling to the open road, and heard nothing in response. But, recently, I’ve called with a different tone. I’ve begun to see that there is a certain liberty on the road with my bike. There is a familiar wind that brushes through my hair; a welcoming rickety-rack that hums through my wheels; sunlight that kisses my skin.
When I ride my bike, I can feel. I am alive.
My friends have little comprehension in this field. On my bike, I have absolutely no limitations. I can bounce off the sidewalk, cruise through the streets, or rip it up on the dirt. I can park wherever I want. Drivers yield to me.
In some ways, I do feel younger. I get fresh air and vitamin D. I don’t have to pay 60 bucks for gas. I never forget my coffee mug on the roof because it would be silly of me to put a mug on my helmet. I never have to wait in gridlocks because the bike lane is always open.
I believe that I may never get a car, and that I might just never grow up; but in the end that’s okay. I guess I was just born to wild.