That girl on the old blue bicycle - Day 1454: 5 Minute Freewrite

in Freewriters4 months ago


She was often seen on an old blue bicycle,

a vintage Schwinn with fenders and a basket, a "girl's" bike with no bar to straddle, so she could ride across campus while wearing her trademark long skirts. The bike could have come straight from the set of "The Wizard of Oz" but this girl wasn't channeling a wicked witch on a bicycle. She was just getting around, quickly and pragmatically.

This was the early 1980s, but like her 1950s mother, this girl had never owned a pair of Levis or any other kind of jeans. When the Rainbow Coalition emerged and asked students to show their support for gays by wearing denim jeans on "Jeans Day," this co-ed had only a pair of corduroys that had belonged to her great-aunt, hand-sewn in the 1920s, but sixty years later, they were comfier than any jeans money could buy. As fashion statements go, this woman who lived in her great-aunt's corduroys and rode her step-aunt's old Schwinn had one message:

I don't care if you like the way I dress, or think, or live.

And, sorry, I don't have a pair of jeans to prove I'm not indifferent to the sufferings of gays or any other minorities our outcasts, but failing to display "unity" is not a sign that I don't care.

She was comfortable in her own skin. On that awful, antique bike. In those dreadful long skirts and baggy sweaters that concealed her figure, because she'd learned her lesson in high school when the boys subjected to her something that wouldn't be labeled and outlawed for years to come: Sexual Harassment.

Lost in her own thoughts, she often failed to notice the opinions of others, unless the topic was literature. She read avidly and endlessly, and her best friends were imaginary people who'd been birthed in the minds of others, yet who came to life on the dry pages of wood pulp beaten down and rolled through a press.

She lives on today, but not with the same oblivion, not with that liberating indifference to the judgment of others.

She started to care what others think. She became acutely aware of the ways she failed to please, the things she failed to accomplish.

Whatever happened to the girl who rode an old blue Schwinn and looked ridiculous and didn't care?


Thank you @mariannewest for the prompt and for all your support of freewriting!

Day 1454: 5 Minute Freewrite: Thursday - Prompt: blue bicycle


Those photos are fantastic! I love the way you looked back on young you. Although I don't think she looked ridiculous! The cat shoulder warmer is a nice accessory! :)

Funny, I think I care less what people think about me now than when I was younger...

Thanks - that's how it's SUPPOSED to work: as we age, we stop caring so much how we come across to others. The ridicule of our daughters can stop some women from "daring to be me" - men seem more imperturbable, knowing as they do their sons will suffer thinning hair and favorite old T-shirts....

Tell us about the cat. Those photos are fantastic. who took them? Did you ride around town on your blue bike in your flannel lined hand-me-way-down corduroys with the cat too?

The cat never came with me to campus - she was a fixture at the farm. Pixie. The most affectionate creature we'd ever seen. She'd flop at our feet like a Schmoo in Lil Abner, looking ready to drop dead from sheer joy at the merest hint of attention.


No, no, there was never any thought of eating our cats!!!

I love your cat pixie. I want a Pixie. The vet here has an enormous beige-orange maine coon that has been boarded there as long as anyone on the staff can remember. Romeo. Apparently he roamed the entire office for years, until that became frowned upon in animal medical associations that award certification. So now he occupies the top kennel. Up there he looked even bigger than he is (to puny me anyway) and he scared me a little. But the vet opened that cage and out he hopped, a love shmoo. I want him.

Romeo!! Oh Romeo! I WANT HIM
He sounds like Merlin, caged, unwanted, looking big and scary, to everyone but me: I saw a butterfly. No, I cannot explain. Maybe his tiny voice said "Butterfly" not Raging Lion. Oh now that Jimmy is gone you might find that the Maine Coon is a "better version of the dog" - some are known to fetch, to be as loyal and companionable as dogs. Merlin was too scarred for that, traumatized, and then Bobi the Bad tormented him. Perhaps Freddy would be intolerant of Romeo. I WANT HIM.... no I don't. Yes I do. ROMEO!!!!!

I had two Maine Coons. Fabulous cats. This guy let me pet his belly, which neither of my other two will allow. I roughed him up a little and he seemed to like it. My kind of cat!

Romeo is very happy there. He has long term friends too. When the vet let Romeo and a few others out, he jumped for joy and started playing with the others. I worry that I would be ruining his life to bring him here. He's clearly happy.

Also, a staff person there told me that the vet has never considered adopting him out to others who have wanted him, so even if I do decide I want him, it's a long shot. At least the vet came here (to put Jimmy down), saw my digs, and knows how much I would love him. Maybe that would be in my favor.

Well, if Romeo is happy in his little cage, ok... but I would be happy knowing you had another Maine Coon in your life. Who wouldn't want one. (Uh, my husband.)

I will love Romeo from afar. :)

My youngest sister took the pictures at the farm.
Nobody photographed me in college. Unlike today's kids, I have almost ZERO images, not even of Father Ed (long before he entered the seminary! back when he was still a chain-smoking alcoholic Englis major!) in his hat with his dog Flower, or in his long dark trench coat. A pity. I did find some recent images of him online, but I have no photos of me with any of my college chums.


He told you you were obsessed with demons? Who was this guy to you?

I don't have any photos of college chums either, come to think of it. One. It's a good one too. If I ever see it again, I'll show you. I have little hope of seeing many of those things I packed so carefully again.

We had so few photos, but our grandparents had even fewer (sssh, don't ask how old this makes us). One photo taken every so many decades - a toddler portrait, maybe a wedding portrait, maybe a family photo in the older years. Three pictures per lifetime, on average. In my grandma's world, anyway!

It sounds good. Maybe it would help one stay in the moment. And I would have had a whole lot less to move from one house to another. Even though I tossed at least half away, I still have a ridiculous number of photographs.

Oh! Is this about you, or about Lori? The photos don't look like long-ago you, but the text sounds like you. Why did she start to care?

I love her, and you. Beautiful freewrite.

Thank you!
Photos are of me, early 1980s, on that very bike.
I'm still puzzling over the part where she started to care. WHAT HAPPENED....
Graduated, got a job, got married....
Woke up one day and noticed how many people found her offensive or annoying....

So the real question is, do you still have those corduroys?

I do indeed - but it has been a long, long time since I could fit into them! or the little dark-brown leather ankle boots, or the brown turtleneck and vest, OMG, did I really wear such things ON CAMPUS at a UNIVERSITY. I did, I did indeed, and weirder things.

UPDATE ohhhhh no, no, no
Not there in the closet anymore - the old corduroy pants - with brown plaid flanned inner lining and button-up sides. WHERE DID THEY GO....

Oh no! I hope you find them! Brown flannel lining?! Button up sides?!

I still have a few of the clothes I made in high school - a nice corduroy vest, my graduation dress which I designed myself. I've kept everything my mother made for me, she was very crafty. I can't part with a single thing of hers.

Of all the many treasures you've parted with, you've kept your mom's sewing - that's something! Too many of us have let go of these things. I see them at Goodwill all the time, hand crocheted baby blankets, and books signed by authors, and artwork written "With love to ---," and maybe someone died and someone else cleaned house, but I suspect a lot of this is the housekeeping of indifferent offspring....

they have left me children's artwork to deal with here, both the stuff they made 60 years ago and that of their own children.

My mother's color and material sense was different from mine. She got into acrylic yarn and bright bright blue for me. I don't have them where they can be seen by anyone but me, but I adore them anyway.

Oh no, children's artwork - STORAGE UNIT somewhere on THEIR property...
Acrylic: I never could abide the stuff. Cotton, soft and well worn. Our youngest inherited that trait, and preferred secondhand clothing to new. (Until middle school.... when people started commenting on how she dressed, and how she looked, and she started to CARE what others thought. How did I not see that coming!)

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I would say, "she" has turned out to be an outstanding person.

That's sweet of you. Thanks for reading and commenting!

You're welcome

I get lost in your writing. When is your book coming out?? My mom used to secretly admire my spunk when I was corrected. I'd spout, "Ask me if I care!" She'd discipline the impertinent behavior. Years later, she told me that she wished she had my fire. Soon after, I married a man who would suppress me for twenty years. Get rid of the man, and get rid of the suppression. I am back to the spunky one but I do care now what's the things I care about are about have become more other centered.
I love the cat sitting jauntily on the shoulder, and I love the smile. So much in the picture. Thanks for sharing.

Ohhhh how sad to have that spunk, and to have a husband who suppresses it. (Make that past tense.)
I try not to get too public about my sister, sharing personals, but she had that kind of husband. "Less than Zero" in terms of emotional support AND physical (doing chores) support. Oh the details I have not shared. Women have a kind of sisterhood that requires some outrage, some SPUNK, on behalf of other women suffering what you did, but you probably can affirm that the husbands are masters at isolating their wives and alienating their friends, so the wife has no remaining support group, and add to that the undermining of self esteem, the sense of deserving no better - HOW did you break free - no need to answer that here (and you probably already did in Steemit posts way back when). I'm so glad you've made that break, so sorry you suffered for 20 years. And thank you for all the kind words! You're a rare reader, if you can like my unorthodox (discursvie) writing style. Bless you!! Thank you!

Oh, the history and the truth of it all but its root is self punishment for something I didn't do to myself. Young children have no idea how to process events that scar them emotionally so it seems that instinctively we believe we are not worthy of love. If a controller comes along to take advantage that feels normal. I waded through my own psyche for decades raising kids without the benefit of psychotherapy, and I was was blessed to meet the Savior at 19. Eventually He brought to the surface a dream triggered by a family crisis. The shock was just like they portray in books. Suppressed memories resurfaced at age 30ish and I became aware of what I was allowing and forgave myself for that which I didn't know.
We do have a sisterhood, funny how that is. God is great. ❤

You could write the book, for sure - with the happy ending of meeting the Savior, but that was age 19, and it seems another 20 or so years passed before you broke those chains of childhood abuse and those who exploit the vulnerable in their adult stages. I think of this bruised caterpillar morping butterfly wings without ever really taking FLIGHT because the bruises somehow keep holding it back. But what do I know. I still get "triggered" by trivial things, like two sisters disputing my definition of "a month ago today." Is a month four weeks, or is matching dates on a calendar (e.g., Sept. 13 - Oct. 13, which is more than 28 days). WHY. Why. Why does my brain fixate on the feeling of being REBUKED, incorrectly, for a harmless comment.... clearly, the two sisters disputing what a "month" is triggered something, and I don't even feel like peeling the layers of that onion. To feel offended by the way they say something is MY problem. I own it.

But you mention the resurfacing of suppressed memories, and the shocks and revelations that come with it, and I know there really is something to unpack. Just.... NOT TODAY. Today, I want to hang onto the conviction that "we do have a sisterhood" and "God is great." Thanks @wandrnrose7!

I wish I could meet up with you and have a cup or two of coffee or tea 🍵 . Much ❤!!

Wouldn't that be fun!
Here's to an afternoon tea (or coffee) in spirit, at least!
Much ❤ to you too!!

Yes ma'am ❤ who knows what God can arrange 😉