Friday, March 30, 2012

Dragonfly Helicopter

She was about five, living in a little cracker box house with her mother, two sisters, sometimes a father and Susie their kitty with a box of her kittens. The louvered windows let in way too much cold and bugs and the asphalt tile floors had to be scattered with braided rugs and other rugs to keep their feet from freezing during the mild, but cold enough winters of Southern California. The three little girls all had big fluffy slippers and flowered terry cloth housecoats too; and when they got into bed they had big puffs to pull up over the sheets and other blankets so that they could cocoon their little bodies in their own body heat, the louvered windows hovering on the wall above the bunk-bed, seeping in cold air and bugs.
She loved to be outside playing with her sisters, or alone, riding her bicycle around the neighborhood. The lane they lived on was a dirt road and from rain and driving it often had ruts. It was a little rough to ride over for a fairly inexperienced bike rider, but brave she was; so she commissioned herself to go up there and back down again and then even turn into their own little gravel road that four houses, all the same, lined two sides of. The gravel was hard to get much traction on and was a temptation to fall, but it was also a way to learn to pump the pedals faster to stay upright, as all bike riders eventually learn if they pursue it past their fears.
The bicycle was not very big, but the training wheels were off and it was total independence to fly around at the speed of what she could pedal, with no one holding her up and no safety net training wheels with which to suspend her disbelief that she was actually flying alone.
In her memory, she thinks she had spectators, but in reality, she may very well have been on a lone expedition that memorable day the dragonfly started to chase her...
She thought it was a helicopter, hovering above her head as she bolted off on her little bicycle screaming, the rush of adrenaline darting to her feet to make her pedal what she thought was fast enough to fly as if she were a helicopter too. She couldn't seem to get away fast enough and kept screaming as she pumped those pedals ever and ever faster, the gravel beneath her wheels suspending her ability to pump quite fast enough to escape in a timely manner.
She had been being so brave, traveling up and down the rutted road and gravel drive and the thought that anyone could see her screaming and fleeing a bug flying over her head was utter embarrassment.
When she thinks about that story now, she thinks her sisters were ahead of her but it may be just that she wished they were. She and her little sister hoot over thinking about it and remember a time when they were a little bit older and riding a bigger bike together, with both of their feet on the pedals.
They had gone up to the schoolyard near their home and had gotten mad at an older boy and knocked over his bike. Well when he came running after them, his long arms stretching out to catch them, the adrenaline kicked in and with both of their feet on the pedals they really did feel like they were flying at helicopter speed. His long arms kept missing them as they sped off together in more unison than they had ever known. It was a wonderful bonding moment. They'll remember that moment forever now and laugh, guttural laughs to think about it and remember those wonderful times in the neighborhood with bikes and buddies playing all around..
For years later she would dream of a giant chasing her and as the giants arm kept coming down around her she would be lifting off while pedaling and getting ever and ever higher, missing the monster giant's arm reach.  She dreamed that dream a lot, but finally it stopped recurring. Had she finally learned to fly?