My mother made me a red gingham dress just like the blue one on this vintage pattern. It was for my first day of school in first grade. I loved that dress and specifically chose it one morning in the spring of 1962. Its large white collar was just what I needed to hide what had happened the day before.
It was a bright spring day, perfect for bike riding. I rushed home from school, changed my clothes, and got out the blue bike I had received for Christmas a few months earlier. I could hardly wait to be riding free in the sunshine with the wind blowing my hair. Now, I had seen the older kids ride through the neighborhood. The really cool ones rode with no hands.
“I bet I can do that,” I thought.
I coasted down our street. I let go. For a few yards I may actually have ridden without hands. The bike gained speed. Our street had a gentle downward slope. I guess I had forgotten that. Our street also had a pothole. I hit it at full speed and flew over the handlebars. I think my tooth may have cut through my lower lip and I still have the scar. My chin was all scraped up.
Mama cleaned me up. I didn’t explain.
The next morning I put on my red dress. For most of the day, that pretty white collar was between my teeth, hiding my shame.