When I told my five-year-old we could work on bikes this week, I had no idea I would be blindsided by nostalgia. A friend gave us one of those tag-alongs a few years back and Bea has been pining to use it. She’s outgrown the child seat but not quite ready to go solo. So out came the bikes and the tools and I slowly figured out how to assemble the thing. During the test drive we discovered a bar that attaches her half-bike kept scraping something on the back of mine. I took a look and realized the problem: there is a protruding metal rack where a child seat can attach. It needed to be taken off.
I hesitated, realizing that the child seat rack had been on my bike since 1998, before my oldest could walk. Totally unbidden came a wave of emotions and memories. Cue the nostalgic music (“Sunrise Sunset” or Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” were my mental soundtrack). As the wrench loosened the screws I watched a slideshow in my head of me schlepping my kids around on the bike. There is Jonah, calling to the ducks as we ride along the Charles River. Now I am in the White Mountains, pregnant and pedaling for all I’m worth as 18month old Georgia urges me on and shouts “Fastoh! Fastoh!” The scene changes and my sweet Millie is behind me, sucking her thumb and happy as a clam to be hauled around the neighborhood like an empress in a litter. And finally it is last August. I am at the Cape with Bea in tow, heading to Coastguard Beach. She chats a lot and I enjoy her running commentary on the sea grass and gulls. My load is heavier hauling a kid, but so companionable.
When the rack was detached I found a small bag for the screws and put them all on the shelf with the bike seat that I will not use again. But I can’t get rid of it. Not yet. The montage of my kid’s as little tykes on bikes is still too fresh.
I tightened the tag-along, secured Bea’s helmet and we went for a spin around the block. We were both a bit nervous at first and had to figure out how to balance. Once we got our groove she realized that instead of being a passive passenger, she could pedal. Her little legs churned like a windmill. I stopped pedaling and was amazed that the bike just kept going. We stayed like that for a while, me coasting, Bea pedaling and chatting, and it was a beautiful ride.
What items that you no longer need do you hang on to? Why are some things so hard to part with? What things embody your memories?