In my youth, I rode my bicycle everywhere. I could pop a wheelie and ride with no hands for at least a block. I could ride for miles and not get tired and I never worried about falling. So these are the memories I have of myself when I decided to ride a bike to the grocery store the other evening. Too bad Thomas didn't know me then.
When I first announced I was going by bike, there was a look of sheer terror on his face. You'd think I'd been called to participate in the Hunger Games. (You have to read the book or see the upcoming movie.) He immediately volunteered to go to the store for me. "Oh, I want to go" I said. I could tell he didn't want to offend me, so he calmly explained why it was better for him to go. Bottom line, he didn't want me crashing in the dark.
Of course I was offended by his lack of confidence in me to ride a bike a half mile to the store at night. So of course, I went. (And I wonder where Mecca gets her stubbornness, not.) But only after promising I would turn around if I couldn't see well enough.
I forgot to mention I haven't ridden a bike in a couple, okay few years. So I got on and wobbled down the street until I got my balance back. The freedom, the fresh air, I was having fun. Then came the dark bridge. So this is where I noticed my hesitation: do I ride in the street and risk getting hit by a car, or ride on the narrow sidewalk next to the railing and risk running into the side and falling over the 3 foot wall? Hm mm. I wasn't wobbling anymore so I rode on the sidewalk. Yahoo, small victory, I didn't fall over.
I bought too many groceries at the store so my backpack was about 10-15 pounds heavier on the way back. More balance issues, but I worked it out. I made it safely over the bridge but ended up walking a bit because it was dark and I have to admit I couldn't see very well. By the time I made it home, I was tired and my legs and back hurt. I never had this problem when I was younger.
The next thing I notice at my age is the interminable amount of time it takes for the smallest cut or bruise to heal. Something that would have healed in a couple of days, now seems to take 3 to 4 times longer. So I'm more concerned with falling while hiking and stuff because it hurts a heck of a lot more than it used to. And it takes so much longer to heal.
And finally, the uninvited pounds that have crept on the past couple of years. They are like the dinner guests who won't go home. No matter how many different ways you ask, they still won't leave. They have settled in and made themselves quite comfortable.
With all this said, I wouldn't want to be 20 or even 30 again. I like having the wisdom and peace that only aging brings. I figure as long as I stay active I'll be able to do all the activities I enjoy up until the day I leave this body behind. And who knows, with a little practice, I may even pop a wheelie again.
Originally published March 2012 from Hawaii.