There was never a bike that fit any of us just perfectly, so the beginning of the summer was full of hours spent dismantling and rebuilding until we had at least three usable bikes. Most of my knowledge of tools was born in those summer mornings.
There was something thrilling about riding as fast as we could around the one driveway in the neighborhood with a semicircle shape. The owners probably hated it, but we kept daring each other to "do the circle one more time."
I never learned how to use the gears and speed settings correctly, but I mastered the art of popping off the corner of the third driveway on the street - going a little higher each time. I secretly wished the bike would fly, and carry me far away. I only spoke that wish aloud one time, on a day when only two of us were riding. My admission was met with a, "Me too," that was not unexpected, but something unspoken between us made us never mention it again.
Turning the corner felt like entering another world. Finally clear of being seen from the brown house, obscured by the weeping willow on the corner, we stopped to rest in the shade of an overhanging oak tree. The houses around the corner felt lush and green in a way the yards on our grandparent's street never did.
We turned one more corner, and sped by slowed cars to jump over speed bumps. Our ultimate destination was the construction site that hadn't been officially marked as off limits, because none of the adults knew we were riding in that direction. We stashed our bikes behind the dumpster, and wandered through the skeletal shape; carefully climbing the crude stairs that were more like ladders in some places, arguing which third story bedroom would be the best, and laying in the hot sun when we finally reached the top floor. It is a wonder that house ever got built, because construction workers were never there on those summer days.
When the air could no longer contain the moisture, we felt the hot raindrops hit our faces. It was time to run for our bikes. Racing over speed bumps that seemed to have grown larger during our adventures, and more arduous to climb, we headed home. Never taking flight, except in our imagination and dreams. We hid in the garage, behind a wall of carefully labeled boxes, until a voice from across the courtyard called us back inside to cool air conditioning, crackers adorned with cream cheese and raisins, and sweaty glasses of Mountain Dew.