The children in my neighborhood where riding bikes, roller-skating, sledding, ice skating, and were pretty good at what they did.
Me, whenever I put on my ice skates mother added ugly brown ankle straps, covering new white leather. She had to, my ankles were too weak, but mother said, “Straps will strengthen them.” All the neighborhood children were riding new bikes but I had to use an antique borrowed from my mother’s sister. It was huge, with huge covers on the tires and spray painted a putrid color green.
One day, late in the afternoon, I flipped, tossed right onto the ground in the market lot. When mother looked out the kitchen window, I was dragging that old bike up the curb and my leg covered in blood, and a large gash of skin torn away. Mother knew it needed stitches and called out for father to start the Studebaker.
I was on my way to the Hospital on the Hill, where Medical Men would not stitch the cut, it was filled with dirt and macadam covered in oil and soot. The Medical Men told me, “All the specs of dirt will pass right through and come out the bottom of your foot.” Those Medical Men told me to keep off my leg for at least a month. First, I never believed stones came out of my foot – or had to spend a month in summer learning how to wobble on a pair of crutches instead of learning the right way to handle a antique bike. Medical Men can tell you anything and get away with it.
I grew up wearing black patent leather shoes and pretty little dresses each one perfectly pressed. I grew up watching a black and white television when mother was not engrossed with “Love of Life.” I played alone most of the time, teaching my paper dolls how to stare. I stared at the moon and stars, dreaming about flying. I never asked mother if she too wanted to fly.