I wrote yesterday about gaining independence in steps. Usually this means ages 16 – getting a driver’s license and a car, age 18 – voting for the first time, 21 – legally drinking (perhaps not drinking for the first time haha). For me, there were two Independence Days that really signified gaining whole new levels of independence for myself I only mildly understood at the time.
I was the tender age of 14 years old, I had just finished my freshman year of high school. There were big things happening for me at the time – I decided to join the marching band and had just marched in my first parade (the then brand new professional hockey team Avalanche just won the Stanley Cup so we joined the celebration) and my friend, Selena, asked me to join her and her parents on a trip to South Dakota for July 4.
I thought for sure there was no way my mom would let me go on that trip. First – it meant a trip without either her or my dad to supervise. It also meant a trip with a friend who is a little on the wild side. She was much wilder than I was and tended to be even more boy crazy than I was, at least at that time. So when she asked, I was excited but wasn’t sure I’d be granted permission to go.
To my surprise, my mom said yes… without hesitation I may add. My dad is typically more laid back about those things and in my family it was the stereotypical ask mom bit. Anyway, the point is it showed they trusted me to go for four days without them and not be too crazy. It was a blast!
Among the things I remember of course is having gone to Deadwood, South Dakota. This was before the HBO television show mind you. I love going to old western towns like that. Okay so it’s mostly touristy but that’s okay. I enjoyed it. I also had a chance to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument (granted it’s still mostly stone but you could see what it’s meant to be). We shot off fireworks and even saw a show at Mount Rushmore if I remember correctly. One of the things I remember most about that trip though was the stars. I’ve never seen so many stars before. Custer, SD, which is where we were really headed, is a very small town out in the middle of nowhere. It was a blanket of stars. It was so gorgeous. Living in a big city means you don’t see that many stars so it was a real treat. I loved it. I’d go camping out there with a boyfriend some day (if I ever get a boyfriend haha).
My other major July 4 was when I was in college. This time I decided to take a crazy summer job. This is another fine example of how I don’t know what I was thinking and I definitely don’t know how I managed to talk my parents into letting me do this. My parents really supported my craziness in college but I love them for that. I couldn’t have learned any other way.
So this time, I decided to take a big chance and not really understanding what I was getting into, took a job doing door-to-door sales. When I accepted the job I didn’t know where I would be selling or where I would live. I only knew that I would be going to Nashville, Tenn., for training for a week. It was there in Nashville I would find out where I’d be going. Lo and behold… our group was assigned the Gulf Coast. My little group of three was specifically assigned to Biloxi, Miss. Leaders were super excited and I couldn’t help but be like um… really? Is that a good area to do sales? Well, I took that leap of faith but man did I learn a lot. I’ll only focus on the Fourth, but there’s more to tell in this story, but for another time.
The independence gained on this little of adventure of mine was huge. There was more than just independence gained/learned, but I really found out about myself and how capable I am of taking care of myself. I learned a lot about finally coming out of my comfort zone to some degree as I’m naturally introverted. Going door to door, just to find a place to live for the summer, was hard for me but I managed to do it. I didn’t end up being a good sales person, not because I couldn’t pitch the product but I couldn’t get people to hand over the dough. That’s the tricky part of sales… you have to close the deal. Damn.
Anyway, the Fourth of July came around and I’d already had some very interesting experiences. Well that day, I encountered a fairly young man, wheelchair bound. I can’t remember exactly what his story was but he was probably about 10 years old than myself or so (I was 19 at the time). Bear in mind what I was selling was educational books (sort of like encyclopedias but not) so I had talked to him because he does have a child in school. Being in the south, many people were very friendly and happy to offer food and plenty of sweet tea… which is very sweet if you haven’t had any.
This guy, well he was friendly alright. He offered marriage and to take care of me forever. This, of course was after first inviting me to come and hang out for some dinner with his family and friends (he was single just fyi) for the holiday. I had accepted because it would be after my work hours. It was very nice to have somewhere to be especially because I worked by myself all day every day. To be fair, this guy did seem like a really nice guy but yeah… at 19 and not from the area, etc., not a good deal for me.
I worked until 8 or so that night so I had stopped at the gentleman’s place before heading to the house we were staying at. By we… I mean the two other girls I worked with at the time. We were living with a Baptist minister and his family… it was like living in that show “7th Heaven” – very nice people with five kids. I’ll never forget them. After work, me and the girls did shoot off a couple of fireworks… at least until the cops came by and stopped us. That stunk. It was so nice because the woman (sadly I can’t remember her name) left us a fabulous spicy shrimp dinner. I can almost taste it now. It was so good.
That July 4th in some ways wasn’t real eventful. What it did do though was help me find my footing. I kept plugging along at a job I quickly learned I hated but I learned about a new kind of responsibility. I learned resourcefulness. I had to grow up that trip. I couldn’t rely on mom and dad to help me out or be my protector. I had to do it for myself. That is priceless. There is also, of course, managing my money more and knowing that I’m not a business person but I had to do some of that for myself also because, again, no one else was there to do it for me.