My son has suddenly got the hang of riding his bike. Today we went to the park to practice, and I walked along behind him as he sailed away, looping and swooping and circling the paths. After a while, we went back to the playground to meet the rest of the family, and I saw him flinch as we walked into the crowd. I saw his eyes cloud momentarily, and I knew that expression.
When I was about ten, I went for a walk with my Dad across the North Yorks Moors. As we arrived back in the town – a beautiful, quiet town, where we were spending one of many magical holidays – the noise of human activity hit me in a wave, and I burst into tears.
Watching my boy ride into the distance today, I remembered the freedom, the wind, the peace, the solitude. My bike would only carry one, so cycling with others was still cycling alone. Nobody could catch me. Nobody could stop me. I loved my vicarious flight today – but it also made me yearn for a bike of my own.
I took my son for one more loop around the park. He won back his delicious solitude, and we brought it home with us.