I think about being a kid sometimes. Some things make me think about being a kid. An old home, an old album, and a bike.
Tim and I started riding bikes, again. I say again because in the past we were both avid bike riders, for me that was about 14 years ago. My friends, brother, and I would ride back and forth on a frontage road by our old farmhouse. I don't remember why we didn't get bored riding that same path to and fro, but I know we loved to ride. I recently recalled a memory I blocked out from embarrassment. I had learned to ride with no hands, and decided to ride with my eyes shut as well. Within seconds I was in the ditch with fresh scrapes and bruises. Nobody knew why, I would never tell.
We've been riding our bikes on the lakefront path. It makes me feel like a kid again, the cool breeze whipping round my face, teasing out my flyaways as we pass walkers and runners- and get passed by more serious bikers with spandex shorts. Your heart feels full from the intoxicating blend of wind, sun, and movement. Once again, I love to ride my bike.
A couple weekends ago we visited the old farmhouse where my grandparents still live. I hadn't been there in the summertime in years. We climbed the old tree, and I marveled at our ability as kids to scale it. Sure, it has gotten a little taller, but so have I. My first time in that tree I was afraid and called out to my mom for help. She instructed me to jump and assured me I would be just fine. The landing sent shockwaves up my legs, but they wore off quickly enough. Soon we were climbing that tree everyday, hatching plans and forming clubs. Tim and I sat in that tree together, and I wondered at the passage of time.
That house always makes me happy, and it's bittersweet. I love to be there. Every sidewalk crack, bush, and room has a thousand stories from childhood. I love to remember, and I grieve. I grieve the days when I was small, when I was child in my family, when the days were long and full of tiny adventures. And I'm happy, happy to remember those days and grateful that they ever were. Grateful to be with my family, my grandparents, and share those memories with my husband.
The other day I was shuffling my iPod and a song from Jars of Clay's first album played, Worlds Apart. I was immediately transported back into the family van, driving around the college town we lived outside of listening to that cassette tape. The songs from that album made me feel things, feelings that were not always informed by the lyrics (which I did not understand), but I felt just the same. Feelings of joy and sadness. Longing. I felt those again as I stood in our apartment, washing our blue dishes, making dinner.
All of these things make me sad and make me happy at the same time. The feeling is complex and common to man. I think we all long for the past and relish its remembrance, but we also love now. There are lessons I had to learn back then and in the years to follow that I do not want to be reminded of. There was sadness, there were humiliations that stung, separations that ached. But in these memories I am reminded that God is so good and so gracious. Life is full of many joys, some profound and some small, like bicycles, climbing trees, and cassette tapes.
I am thankful for my family, for my husband. I am thankful for the ways God has provided for all of us. I am thankful for the lightning bugs and summer nights. I am thankful that God has been with me every step of this life, through every joy and sorrow, and I will spend eternity with Him. I think I'm ready to go ride my bike and make some new memories. Thank You God for bicycles, climbing trees, and cassette tapes.