The Defiant Creative
Short musings and permission to breathe.
Today, for the first time in years, I rode a bike. This is one of the "second chances" I've been given by having my left SI joint fused last summer. For years, I didn't have the stability, and over time, my disability affected my ability to ride without pain.
I bought an indoor sports bike. It's not a Peleton, but it's a decent starter bike, which feels about right, since I'm basically a starter. I've forgotten basic stuff, like balance. When people use the idiom "it's like riding a bike", they underestimate how likely I am to fall off the saddle sideways.
Anyway, this morning I hopped out of bed, put on my clothes, and jumped on my fancy new bike. Sitting so high, watching the sun rise out my window, I remembered something I'd forgotten for decades:
When I was 10 years old, I announced a rodeo.
I grew up in North Platte, Nebraska, which means, I grew up with rodeo. In 1984, Footloose was released, but my proximity to Hadley Barrett made him a way bigger star to me than Kevin Bacon would ever be.
My parents were not ranchers, but as active community members, certainly made great friends with true stewards of the land, and socially interacted with people who were regular rodeo participants. My mom managed a successful restaurant/bar in North Platte that served big steaks and attracted folks who had worked a hard day. I was there a lot, so I had the opportunity to interact with them, too.
It was at that restaurant I met Mary, a middle aged cowgirl, who was tough as nails and soft as fleece. One day, she saw me languishing over my homework at the bar, walked over to me, and said, "Grab your stuff. Let's go to the rodeo."
What? The rodeo? On a Tuesday afternoon? I clammed up.
"Um, I'd rather not-"
"Grab your stuff, kid," she said. "Donna, I'm taking Becky to the rodeo."
Aha! Mom would save me.
"Okay, have fun." Mom would NOT save me.
And so, soon I was riding with Mary in her big red truck, with a Roseanne Cash song blasting out the speakers.
She took me to the rodeo. She put me on a horse.
It was so much better than homework.
Mary knew I liked to sing. Mary knew I liked to talk, too. She dragged me up the stairs to the booth, where a couple of cowboys sat in front of mics.
"Move over boys," she said. "She's here for your job."
And so, I sat with Mary, and two kindly old guys who spent a couple of hours patiently teaching a ten year old kid how to announce for a rodeo.
I screwed up more than a few times. No one seemed to mind - and at the end of the day, Mary dropped me off to my mother, and drove away in the sunset.
I can't believe I'd forgotten that.
I'm really going to enjoy this bike, I think.
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Theatre Artist, Storyteller, and Creative Community Builder
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