-a bike: Despite the overall hipness of biking nowadays, biking around has a lot of great memories for me. Plus it sculpted the curvaceous shapely calves I still sort of have today.
I was 6 when I learned to ride. My brother was 11. My parents seemed to forget to teach him to do pretty normal stuff when he was younger like swim (the prior year) or bike and decided to catch him up when they got around to me. I was permitted to ride up and down our substantial driveway to my heart’s content unsupervised for the first year or so. This provided hours of amusement while waiting for MacGuyver to go off (I hated him so much) or just wanting to burn the energy a 6 year old is unfairly given. Though I didn’t leave the premises I still enjoyed laughing at stories about my brother riding into a pine tree, he had it coming trust me. I won’t forget him running over me with his bike, I don’t remember how or why but he’s pretty much always been a dick to me.
When I got older and was permitted to do so, I’d either ride around subdivisions and the Church of LDS parking lot with my mom and brother. Eventually I rode alone. I rode everywhere. I rode nowhere. I frequented garage sales, chatted up moms about my babysitting potential (I had none), I picked up interesting shit along the side of the road and put it in my pouch.
Sadly, biking went out of style first when I moved to a more urban (yet still safe and suburban) area. I guess urban denotes that you move out of a town where the only industry is a payphone next to town (village?) hall and into a neighborhood where you can actually walk to your neighbor’s house in less than a minute. I remember riding my bike to look for jobs at assorted businesses up the street including McDonalds (the farthest away and up the biggest hill and the fastest turn down—probably for the best). After I actually got a job at the ritzy family owned farmers market I just walked to and from it because it was that close. Likewise to my friends’ houses. Nothing could’ve been more than half a mile away. Then I learned to drive so I guess I generally said fuck it about a bike.
I did get a new bike when I went to college in my arbitrarily titled junior year. If you want to be more specific, it was the time me and my family couldn’t stand each other to the extent that they allowed me to stay at BG over the summer in a dorm and my ass was not about to melt on the way across campus and into town. It was blue and from Wal-Mart (unlike my prior series of bikes from Kmart, my dad’s clients, my brother) and I was pretty jazzed about it. I used it to ride to Nicole’s apartment, to class, to the union, etc. I would wonder if I would get into situations where I would be drunk or high on a bike and how it would go. I never found out because some dumb fuck tried to steal my bike by yanking on it until the frame bent and it no longer had the ability to roll around campus. I resigned myself to getting rides from Nicole or walking which ended up being fine. My mom picked up my bike and presumably got it fixed by one of her “ones that got away” from high school who now has a bike shop and it lived in my basement. My brother gave it to the salvation army because after so many years he was still a dick.
Throughout my childhood I was regularly dragged to my brother’s violin lessons. In our first home, these lessons were down the street at Ms Bishops’. She had a fantastic garden, lots of foreign trinkets to ogle, gave me shards of beach glass and a room where I could stare at her skylight, do activity books, and watch Hey Dude to pass the time. One of my parents got an inkling that I too must have musical talent presumably after putting me on stage at church to sing. My mom took me to a Suzuki program downtown Cleveland for a short time to learn to play I’m a little monkey on a tiny violin (I assume this is now at a Salvation army) in return for stickers and the opportunity to play games like catch a paper fish with a paperclip on it with a magnet on a string and pole. I was much more interested in the rewards than making music. I think the lessons stopped when my klutzy mom fell down the stairs at the conservatory and got embarrassed and bruised.
Several years later when my brother had switched teachers, we started driving weekly to Bedford Heights to see Joel Fehren at Maison de Ville. During his lessons my mom and I would go shop at Medic (a small-town now defunct CVS precursor), get ice cream (cherry chocolate chunk), buy penny candy and visit the taxidermy shop to ogle the stuffed animals. Eventually she was convinced by the de Ville himself (since then convicted as a child rapist and sent to prison) that I had prowess on the cello. I hated this at first because all I wanted to do was play DuckTales on Nintendo when I got home but now I had to sit on an upturned 5 gallon bucket and practice instead.
Fortunately or not, he was right. I was very good. My brother and I would play duets at church and at my grandparents’ houses on holidays. I recall every performance was an ordeal where I’d have an outfit and makeup and hair and everything. One performance I dressed like yoyo ma in a tuxedo shirt, bow tie, with converse and a bird on my bow. I would venture to say I was pretty advanced for my age but lessons were exhausting and stressful. If I played one note wrong I’d start over, get yelled at for saying sorry and eventually end up in tears. Regardless I continued to play cello along with piano (I was never as good at that) for a few years or so and joined the orchestra at school.
When middle school rolled around I decided to switch to drums, something I had always wanted to do since seeing Animal on the muppets. My parents embraced the change, I took lessons in drums instead and showed a lot of promise. On middle school summer sleepovers , my church friends would rather spend the day at a music shop watching me play than going to the pool. When we switched neighborhoods between middle and high school (see the bike story) I went to a new school with new rules—girl percussionists get bells/xylophones/maracas/bullshit. A-hole boys get the drums. So I lost all my talent completely and stopped taking lessons and said fuck it after two years of marching band. My pearl drum kit grew dusty and was eventually sold for tuition money.
Regardless, I liked playing cello and I still like the music. Come back cello! I cannot give my brother credit for ruining cello since we only had a rental. He’s still really good at violin though (an antique which my mom’s dad gave to him) so I can still be disgusted with him for that.
My dad, his parents and their house
My dad comes from a short family line of intrigue. He wore the same thing every day (his “uniform”) and if you’d ask him what music or movie he liked he’d say “I don’t like movies” or whatever that thing was. All I can tell you he liked was his parents, trucks with campers, summer foods, his barber, his Bible and his boat. Everything else I try to write about him comes out like an insult such as when I try to compliment his one liners and good old fashioned racist humor. Perhaps he was the ultimate roastee. He had a lot of wisdom and patience and was overall a very likeable guy if you’re not his teenage daughter. I would like for him to still be around to see how I grew into a college graduate (twice)and a somewhat well adjusted adult who doesn’t fuck up or dick around nearly as much as when he knew me.
His father was not from around here. I never knew him to like boats since the last one he road brought him and hundreds of nauseous others from Czechoslovakia in the early 20th century when the family business (a cow) went under. He was always grumpy and cursing in Czech but kind to me and the other grandkids. I would like to know him and find the meaning of stories family always hint at during family gatherings of yester year “’that jerry he ain’t no angel’ ‘easy on the ham’ ‘quit that job’” etc. I could find out but there seems to be a mutual lack of desire between myself and the rest of my family to communicate. He got me into gardening and had an awesome house. He once ate my uncle’s pet bunny through what appears to be a misunderstanding. From what I know he was full of wisdom, humor and generosity.
The most recent photo I saw of my grandmother was at a family gathering after my dad’s funeral. It was from the vantage point of my grandfather, a close up of her rear as she bent over a stroller to tend to a baby. My grandpa wanted 9 kids so he could have a baseball team but her equipment quit after 5. She was my favorite person when I was a kid, I was dumped at her house constantly and I loved it. She would always have Hershey bars and hugs and we’d take turn watching shows (my time was anything outside of Young & the restless and Lawrence Welk). She prided herself in being a real woman and not a girl. All of her food was delicious and her kitchen and house defined my ideals of what a house should look like and smell like. Her and my dad were notorious coffee (Sanka, tea) clutching gossip queens which I love.