There was only one thing I ever really dreamed of owning while growing up.
It was a bicycle. In my mind I had pictured it completely. It would be colourful. It would have delicate tassels hanging from the curved handle bars and it would have a basket in front. From countless magazines I had seen, the basket would be carrying wild flowers and some packets of biscuits. I imagined myself in a floral dress, cycling gracefully while the wind blew in my hair and made my dress swirl against my legs languorously. I imagined myself reaching exotic, peaceful meadows where I would rest and read, my bike waiting patiently, wheel angled gracefully, to take me home.
My dream became reality when I was gifted a maroon bicycle one birthday. Sleep went out the window as excitement got the better of me. Money was spent in making it fit the part. The tassels, the basket, colourful hairy rings on the wheels, all were put in place. I even pushed a small duster under the seat and would whip it out routinely to clean real and imaginary dust.
Living in a town with a slightly undulating landscape proved to be a challenge for my cycling dreams. Where I had pictured myself gliding effortlessly, I was faced with routine uphill climbs. There were times when I thought the chain might break from my strained efforts. Free-falling downhill at breakneck speed, required hitherto unknown reserves of courage to be brought to the fore. Fear of being catapulted right out of my seat was always a very real danger. Hands would shake with fright and with the effort to control an out of control contraption. The basket further added to my woes, with things routinely falling out as I went over bumps that generously littered the road. My long open hair, which I stubbornly refused to plait, would lash against my face and blur my vision. I could just imagine the wild picture I must have painted to passers-by.
Through grazed knees and de-skinned elbows, entangled tassels and dreadlocked hair, I grew up. I loved the freedom my bike provided me. I discovered endless spots that became favourites over the growing up years. I became friends with caretakers of orchards and would be given clumps of ripe fruit when I crossed. No fruit since has tasted sweeter or more delicious.
Most importantly I found a friend, in myself. Someone enthusiastic enough to take chances, stupid enough to explore lesser known paths and having faith enough to believe that the magic of life lay right around the corner.
I grew up believing that our dreams don’t always become the reality we imagined. On the contrary, it’s the reality that takes on a dream-like quality if we are willing to let it happen…