"Show Don't Tell"

My middle school English teachers used to say "show don't tell" when teaching us how to write. This  becomes my mantra during college essay season. Great essays are full of strong imagery, allowing the readers to really picture the student in his or her own mind. I like to tell students to try to "paint with words" to help them start the process. Successful essays, are not only rich in description, but also show something about the student in the process. April, a current sophomore at a highly selective liberal arts college in the West, was successful in using imagery to make her story come to life.

Long metal pipes and the revving of the spotless engine awaken the neighborhood.

The steel horse pulls out of its cage and I put on my helmet. I swing my leg around the hot leather seat and then it is time to speed off. It has been two years since my dad bought his Harley Davidson FatBoy 2008, but the bike itself was all my choosing. He gave me the option to pick because I was older than my brother and had been daddy’s girl since I was little. I was always helping him in the kitchen and digging for tools in his toolbox, so it was an easy choice to let me be a part of the choosing of his 40th birthday gift to himself. Because I got to choose the bike it was no longer "his," but "ours.” He had trusted my opinion and loved me enough to share what is now one of his most prized possessions.

I am the only one that goes on the bike, my mother is scared because the bike has no seat belt, and my brother is too skittish, it was just something that only we could do together. Our time together became more than lectures on what to do in life, out time was spent cutting through the wind at light speed just to hear the motor and being so close to my dad that I could smell the aroma of his cologne. Only my dad could understand the passion that I have for riding. We had shared not only proximity, but the fear and thrills that went along with riding the bike. The fears of crazy drivers, not having a seat belt, the thrill of being physically free left me to accompany my dad on his rides.

"You are not getting your motorcycle license before your driver's license young lady!" was what my mom has put into my head. I became known as the daredevil in my family, after being the only one to ride with my dad. The Harley had begun a long trend of daredevil events; no matter how adventurous from riding front row on the scariest roller coaster, doing the ropes course or being infamous for trying bananas on my pizza and loving it, the Harley started it all.

The risk-taking was just a benefit that came along with spending quality time with my dad. Riding the motorcycle became a new daredevil hobby that I love dearly. I was no longer the sweet little Daddy's girl or Goober, a nickname for being an adorable little bundle of joy, but his teenage biker daughter.

For our usual ride my dad and I loaded up the backpack and headed out to my Grandma’s house for breakfast. We took the longer route to Grandma’s through endless cornfields and passed creepy, empty barns, just because it was more scenic. We also had new never-ending roads and had come across the never-ending red light. Every time my Grandma heard a loud motor she knew it was my dad and me arriving for breakfast. When we got off I could remember many comical first things that were said, “That bug flew in my eye.”, “Did you see that crazy driver?” or the usual “Sorry, I spit on you.” Riding a Harley enabled me to get as close as I could to the feeling of flying and being free.

Recently, I wandered into the school parking lot and came across a father and a pink helmet riding around on a Honda. It was a father teaching his daughter to drive a motorcycle. I stopped on the grass, and sat down to watch them until they left at sundown.

By watching the father teach his daughter to ride I hoped that one day my dad would be able to teach me. She was really good but, I wanted to be better. Ever since my dad got his bike, I knew I wanted to ride and seeing her ride made me want to do it even more.

Through riding, my dad had inspired me to take a leap of faith in him and to try something new. It was quality time well spent understanding my dad and the new passion we share. He let me experience the wind get on me, the smell of fresh-cut lawns and the taste of dirt and bugs that fill my slightly open mouth as I get ready for another ride. He has inspired me to try new things. Although I hope to soon ride by myself, I will always cherish the time well spent and new passion I have for riding.


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