My older brother was the greatest kid ever born in my family; my younger brother was the cutest kid ever born in my family; and I was the girl.
I believed that if I were born a boy, I would’ve received more attention, so I tried my hardest to be a boy. I never played with dolls; I hated wearing dresses—I wore Vele’s hand-me-downs, which consisted of jeans and t-shirts; and I followed my older brother around everywhere—that is when he didn’t ditch me.
When he played football with his friends, I asked if I could play too. He said, “Okay, but you’ll be all-time hiker, and no one can tackle you because you’re a girl.” So no one tackled me. I could play basketball, but only if I shot the ball standing still because girls can’t run and shoot.
When we rode bikes, I could only ride my own bike—a girl’s bike—and I definitely could not ride on anyone’s handlebars because girls get hurt easily. I wanted to play rough, get tackled, and do dangerous things just like a boy, but my older brother wouldn’t let me.
So one day I went out without my brother. The boys in the neighborhood were riding their bikes over a home-made ramp (a slab of wood over a Tonka Truck). I didn’t have my bike, so I asked Bobby if I could go over the ramp on his handlebars. He hesitated, but then said, “Okay, Evel Knievel. If you really want to.”
My heart was racing. I was nervous but also excited about being a daredevil, just like the boys. I sat on the narrow handlebars of Bobby’s 10-speed. I held on tight and remember how confident I felt: sitting on handlebars was easier than I thought—I was a natural. We rode around on the grass for a little bit to get used to it. I loved the feeling of the wind hitting my face while someone else pedaled—until we hit the ramp. I remember soaring through the air sideways, falling on the ground, skidding across the grass, and then a final thud when Bobby landed on my head. After that, my memory is still cloudy from the ringing that filled my ears. I know I stood up, smiled at the admiring faces, barely heard the clapping and the numerous “way-to-go kid” compliments, and limped home by myself.
After a long, tear-stained walk home, I quietly went to my room and sat on my bed. I stared at my closet until the stars cleared from my eyes. When I was confident my limbs wouldn’t give out, I reached into my closet for the neglected doll I got for Christmas.