It had coaster brakes and only one gear. My two older brothers used it before me. The twenty-inch, black frame showed its age. It was scratched and nicked from years of use, but I didn't care. It was mine now.
My bicycle stood by the front steps of our house - forgotten. In the front yard, I held the handlebars, swung my right leg over and settled myself onto the seat. My legs weren't long enough for both to touch the ground at the same time. I leaned to one side - one foot supported me. I looked around, made sure no one was watching and kicked off. My feet reached for the pedals and began to pump.
After a few wobbly yards, I fell off, and landed on my shoulder in the grass. I jumped up, brushed myself off, got back on and fell again.
A week later, I rode in circles around the yard, always to the left. I didn't wobble or fall. I was steady, as I followed the beaten trail I'd created in the grass. The wind created by my movement cooled my sweat stained face.
I was free and I was flying.
'Michael!' Mum called. 'Supper is ready!'
I turned toward the front steps, wobbled and fell to the ground. I didn't know how to go straight or to the right. I'd learned to travel in circles to the left.
One day I became brave. 'Mum, I'm going to take my bike to Grand Mum's.'
'Are you sure?' she asked.
'I can do it, Mum.'
Grand Mum lived at the bottom of a short hill from our house. I'd walk there often, but when I sat on my bike at the top of that hill, it seemed much higher than I remembered.
I put my feet in the pedals and started to roll. My speed increased. I pushed back on the pedals, braking to a halt, stepped off and walked my bike to the bottom. On level ground, I got back on my bike and pedaled to Grand Mum's.
'Did you see me, Grand Mum? I brought my bicycle! Did you see me?'
Grand Mum hugged me. 'I saw you, Michael. You did well, but I saw you walk your bike down the hill. It's scary not having control, but you'll get it right. You're getting so big. When you're older, you'll be bicycling all over the place. I'm proud of you.'
'Do you have any muffins?' I asked.
She laughed, 'You know where they are.'
I ran to her pantry. In the cupboard was a plate filled with fresh baked muffins, smothered in pink icing - my favorite.
Grand Mum was right. I did learn to go left, right and straight. A year later, I was bicycling all around the neighborhood.
At twenty years old, I left home and cried. It was a lonely time in my life. Mum wasn't there. It was time to learn how to turn again.
I married and became a Dad - I stumbled. There was someone else to think about - new turns to stumble through.
I've floundered through life. When I thought I had it right, life pushed me in another direction. I've wobbled, stumbled and fallen. Each time I fell, I got up, brushed myself off and turned around the obstacle.
Each time I think I'm on a straight road, life throws a turn in front of me. I may fall, but I always climb back on my seat.