I was riding a bike around the block in my neighborhood. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and my first frustrated efforts to propel myself forward sent the front tire wobbling all over the place. The bike itself seemed too small under the thick grip of my hands and the awkward bending of my knees. But I managed to get myself going, and as I rounded the corner onto Orchard Grove, I saw a bunch of neighborhood kids playing baseball down on the far corner of the street. The post of the street sign and other prominent landmarks were serving as the bases, and they were playing the game in the road itself.
I knew that my path was going to take me straight through the middle of their game, and I didn’t yet have enough control over the bike to avoid it. I just hunched over and braced myself as I barreled right though the makeshift, asphalt infield. The kids all turned and yelled at me. I even felt the hard knot of the baseball bounce off my back. But I didn’t care. I was riding free, peddling faster. I hopped the bike sideways over the curb and up onto the sidewalk. I laughed at my agility as I coasted away, the kids staring after me.
I rode home, and an uncle of mine was there, sitting in a pickup truck parked in the front yard under the shade of a tree. The yard was mostly worn away to dirt patches from a long habit of such parkings, and I came skidding up in a cloud of dust. My uncle leaned out the window of the truck and called down, “Hey there kiddo.” And so it was. I dropped the bike there in the dirt and ran inside and upstairs to my room where the air hung close and humid on the hot summer day.