Chick Wit: Watching the wheels go 'round

Posted: May 19, 2014

The great thing about friends is that sometimes they realize what you need even before you do.

For example, my bestie Laura gave me a bicycle last Christmas, and I thought it was a really cool gift. But I hadn't ridden a bicycle in about 300 years, and this bike had so many bells and whistles that I didn't know if I'd ever figure it out.

Plus no kickstand.

I mean really.

I wrote a column about the bike but worried that that might be the most use I got out of it.

Once again, I was wrong.

It was a beautiful Saturday in spring, after Mother Mary had passed, and I was looking for ways to distract and/or amuse myself.

Grief is a funny thing. It settles into your bones like a dormant virus and becomes a part of you, lying in wait to flare up. Most of the time, it behaves itself, but sometimes it doesn't, and I found that keeping myself busy works wonders.

I know this isn't a new idea, that's the kind of girl I am. I reinvent the wheel, every time.

I was about to work on my next book, but on impulse, I turned to the bike. I didn't really know where to ride it, and there are way too many hills in my neighborhood for middle-aged women.

I'm looking for distraction, not a cardiac.

So I threw it in the back of the car, drove to the park, spotted a bike trail, and hopped on. True, I couldn't figure out the gears, but it turned out not to matter, because whatever gear it came in was great, and in a matter of minutes, I had joined a flock of noisy and unruly 11-year-olds on the bike path.

Not that I'm complaining.

There's nothing like a group of giggling kids to lift your mood, especially when they're somebody else's.

Also I got to ride behind them, acting like I was being a considerate adult, instead of an immediately exhausted one.

Meanwhile, the trail was beautiful, with the trees budding green, the baby birds chirping, and the smooth asphalt making a path for the menopausal.

Nature has its limits. If you can pave something to make it easier on your knees, fine by me.

Surprisingly, you really don't forget how to ride a bike, and I began to enjoy the sensation of the sun on my SPF and the balmy breezes cooling my sweaty armpits.

I'm a poet, right?

I let my thoughts run free, and happily they didn't return to anything morbid, but rather my brain seemed to empty out, an altogether pleasant sensation.

I think this is called relaxation, but I'm not sure.

I'm a relaxation virgin.

And then I realized that I was having fun, all by myself, except for the laughing kids, and in time I felt 11 years old myself.

The kids had fun pretending to swerve their bikes into each other, and I wondered if they would be friends 10 years later, or 20, or even 30 like Laura and me. I thought of Franca, Sandy, and Rachel, my friends of 40 years standing, who have been so wonderful to me about Mother Mary's passing. I even have friends like Nan and Paula, whom I've been close to for 15 years, which qualifies them as new friends.

How lucky am I, in these loyal friends?

How lucky are you, in yours?

Keep pedaling, my friend.

Life is a bike path through the woods, generally smooth, but not without its bumps and turns.

Hang on.

And ride together.


Lisa Scottoline's latest novel, "Keep Quiet," is in stores now, and look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Seritella's latest collection of humor essays in "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim."

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