A Taste of Independence

I think the first time I felt independent was when I finally got my driver’s license. It took me a while to go to the DMV to actually get it because I was so afraid I would fail. When I finally did take my road test, the guy with the clipboard in the passenger seat did not help. He wanted me to pretend that I was parking going downward on a hill when we were actually heading up a hill. When I moved the wheels the wrong way, at least he didn’t mark it against me!

The first summer I had my driver’s license, my aunt let me borrow her silver Cadillac. My sister, cousin and I bounced into the car. We were going to the movies. As we drove, our arms loosely draped out of the open windows, we turned the radio up and sang along at the top of our voices.

Highway to the Danger Zone.

We were going to see the best summer movie EVER.

I feel the need…the need for speed!

That’s right. We were going to see Top Gun.

While the silver Cadillac didn’t accelerate using g-forces, that sense of freedom on a warm summer night was exhilarating. Sometimes being the oldest child in the family is awesome!

Sometimes, though, being the oldest child is also scary. I was the first to go away to college. I loved being away from home…and hated it. Those first few months were really hard. It was before cell phones and email, so I had to call my family collect. Will you accept the charges?

I don’t remember why, but I guess I thought I had to be independent and I held off calling my parents for 9 weeks. I was busy after all, hanging out with my new friends 24 hours a day, taking classes, doing homework, and going to the student union. We did send real letters to each other (you can read some of them here). When I finally heard my mom and dad’s voice on the phone, however, I remember feeling so happy and yet missed them so much that I burst into tears!

Independence; sometimes exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking.

When do you remember feeling independent?

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A 70’s Summer

When I was young, I still had my regular bedtime during the summer. That meant that I was in bed with the light streaming through the windows while I could hear my friends outside, still playing. Once I yelled out to them through my open window, but my mom, who used that time to garden, heard me. She immediately told me to get back in bed!

grandparents' house
Visiting my grandparents over the summer

We lived in a very small town of about 800 people. Our moms rarely arranged playdates for us; we just went to each other’s house and rang the doorbell. We had to stay on our side of the tracks, however. There was no class division about this rule; the tracks ran along the highway and it would have been too dangerous to cross the tracks by ourselves. One good friend lived out on a farm, so it was a special treat when her mom was in town and she rang our doorbell to play. But sometimes, it was just my sister and me, hanging out by the driveway because our mom had kicked us out of the house to play.

Some days it seemed so hot that we could see the heat radiating from the white, concrete driveway. We just couldn’t get up the energy to run around, and we would just sit there, pining for the popsicles we had just made that were still liquid in the freezer. On those hot summer barefoot days, the tar would bubble up from the blacktop roads and make black circles on the soles of our feet, which were impossible to scrub off in the bathtub.

Other days, we would ride our bikes to the park, which surrounded the water tower at the middle of town. It was always fun to ride around that circular road that circumvented the swings, merry-go-round, and teeter-totters. The teeter-totters were long and high at one end, and also very dangerous. I’m afraid I wasn’t very nice to my sister when I’d leave her hanging at the top and got off, letting her drop to the ground. She got me back a few time, and hitting the ground while sitting on a hard wooden seat hurts!

As the pastor’s family, farmers would bring us bushels of tomatoes, sweet corn and of course, zucchini. Mom would fry up bacon and we would have BLTs for dinner. I still love BLTs in the summer! As a kid, I hated corn on the cob. I just didn’t know how good I had it! I love BLTs and corn on the cob for a summer supper.

When we were allowed to stay up late, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in jars. My sister still chastises me when I call them fireflies. To us, they were always called lightning bugs!

What do you remember about summer?

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