During my First Grade year I spent most of my schooldays in bed with all the feverish childhood diseases— measles, mumps, chicken pox—an inauspicious beginning to my school career.

Memories of the year are bereft of detail. My family moved within the boundaries of the District of Columbia that year so my sisters could stay in their school. I think we lived with relatives or friends, then a hotel. Different sick beds float around in my consciousness—or is it subconscious?

Having exhausted all resources in Washington, my father moved us to his hometown, Terre Haute, Indiana. My poor mother was an east coast snob, a New Jersey socialite, if there is such a thing. Drinking was her solution to surviving the dregs of Terre Haute. She enrolled my two sisters and me in the local parochial school, then left it to us to find our way there and back.

I went directly into to Second Grade because of my age. When the St. Joseph nuns discovered I couldn’t read or write, they sent me back to the First Grade. Fine with me. My sister was there, a comfort blanket. In order to thwart any trauma, my mother took me to the bike shop. 

“What’s your favorite color?” The clerk asked.

“My favorite color?” 

 I didn’t know I could have a favorite color, didn’t know anyone could have a favorite color.

“Do I have a favorite color?” I asked my mother.

“Green,”she said, “Like the trees.”

We walked out with my green Schwinn Roadmaster, garnished with a straw basket, chrome horn and a Rocket Ray headlight soldered to the front fender. My mother thought I knew how to ride a bike, like she thought I knew how to read and write. She got in the car, waved and said, “see you at home!” I climbed on and off, balanced and pedaled, fell off, climbed back on and pedaled home. 

From that time on, it was well-established that green was my favorite color. When I was a young wife and mother living in married student housing at Spartan Green Michigan State, my mother sent me a birthday gift—green pleated skirt, green sweater and green beret. 

Within a few weeks of receiving my green bike, bikes mysteriously appeared for my sisters in their favorite colors, blue and red. The favored status I’d held for the humiliation of having to repeat the First Grade perverted into favors for those two. That green-eyed monster laid low in my soul for years until it materialized at the bottom of a vodka bottle. I squashed it forevermore in a Twelve-Step program.

Susan B. Anthony once said, ”Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives freedom and self-reliance.” I can vouch for that. I freely bicycled all around any town I’ve ever lived, until at last, I put a permanent lock on my bike at age seventy-five. 

Self-reliance, however, is a two-faced virtue, not one for an eight year-old, girl or boy, to have to learn. 

7 thoughts on “Green-eyed Monster

  1. Dear Regan,
    Another “gem”: honest, painful, but tempered with a wistful sweet acceptance of “life on life’s terms.”
    Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For most of my adult life I knew that green was my favorite color. Then, not long ago, I realized I didn’t particularly care for green. I had the same experience with candy bars and movies. I’ve stopped assigning favorites as I finally realize they change over time. Except of course bicycles. They are and have always been my favorite machine.

    Liked by 1 person

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