Beyond the Wheels
An afternoon run to the gas station for Polar Pops
with the windows of my dad’s pickup truck down,
and Soundgarden on the radio.
We pass an abandoned parking lot of my hometown
with tall grass growing out of the cracked sidewalk
and a small graffitied building.
This is the parking lot
where he taught me to ride a bike without training wheels.
This is where he let go of my seat and handlebars
because he knew I would not fall.
Some days, I feel like I still need the training wheels.
I feel like I need his hand guiding me in the right direction,
making sure I do not fall.
Most people my age call their exes when drunk,
but I call my dad.
Even when dizzy and stumbling downtown,
he is the one I seek advice from.
He is the one who gave me my first drink;
I spent Friday nights in high school drinking
with my father at home instead of at parties,
where he knew I was safe.
Where he could catch me when I’d fall.
My dad has been sober since December 24, 2018.
He had not seen a sober day of his life
since he was 16 years old
with alcohol in his system,
until trading his dinner beer for mango juice,
until trading nightly liquor for bedtime ice cream.
He finally took off his training wheels.
So on the day he tells me
he feels like he was not a good father
because of the abuse of the bottle,
I remind him
that the sad little parking lot where he taught me to ride a bike
is only seen as ugly
by those who do not have loving memories of it.
Allison Fox is an undergraduate English major with a minor in Creative Writing at Kent State University.