My junior year marked the addition of driving to my list of talents. Unlike many newly turned 16 year olds, of which I was the last in my class, I had no desire to get my license. Part of my fear was the fact that my birthday was in the dead of winter when ice and snow regularly covered the ground, and the other part of my fear was the fact that I had never successfully driven on the freeway. I was perfectly fine with letting my parents chauffeur me around. Sadly, my dad disagreed, and he put down the ultimatum. I would get my license before summer or I would not be working.
The driving test was the closest thing I ever came in my life to failing. My car was a two-toned Oldsmobile Caprice Classic station wagon in with deep blue on the topand sky blue on the bottom. That car was HUGE. I completely failed parallel parking, but I still say to this day that those cones were closer together than my car was wide. I still look back on my first car with fond memories. The air conditioning didn’t work and I couldn’t start it too early in the morning or it would wake the entire neighborhood with its high “SQUEEL” that it made. But I could cart around tons of my friends, and having a car gave me the freedom to stick around after church and chat to my heart’s content with fellow teenagers.
(My first car. I am so thankful for these pictures. It reminds me to take pictures of seemingly unimportant things when my kids are small. I am so thankful to have a record of the crazy car I drove!)
As the picture shows, I was obsessed with the movie Beauty and the Beast. I don’t remember if the obsession started in 11th grade, but it certainly was fueled during that year. Our family vacation was a trip to California to see family, and in Los Angeles I got to see Beauty and the Beast, the Broadway Musical. I was absolutely hooked. Seeing a candelabra, tea pot and wardrobe on stage was absolutely amazing. To this day I don’t know how they did the beast’s transformation, although the traveling productions I’ve seen since then are a little more obvious. Just recently I was able to share this experience with my oldest daughter, and she loved it as much as I did.
Of course, that experience went right along with another obsession I had, and that was the theater. After August B left in 10th grade, a new student joined our school. Her name was Jenny, and we quickly became good friends. She loved the theater, and we went to many performances together. I specifically remember seeing The Nutcracker with her and an opera at UMKC, the local college. The opera was in English and was HILARIOUS, so I found I could tolerate opera much more than I thought I could. Jenny had dreams of being in the theater some day, and today she is living out those dreams as an adult. I had no delusions of being talented in that area, but I sure enjoyed watching it. I still do, to be honest. Jenny was my “date” to the junior/senior banquet (our school’s version of prom without dancing), and we spent many weekends enjoying sleepovers at each other’s houses, watching movies into the wee hours of the night.
(Our school play was about the pilgrims. I had to hug a boy and was mortified! Jenny looked so pretty as Anne Bollin (I think))
I think that year was the year that Phantom of the Opera came through our town. My dad bought two tickets to one of the showings, and he even splurged for tickets on the main floor, not the balcony. I donned a formal dress and we had a date night at the theater. I felt so important, and was practically giddy with excitement over the opportunity of a lifetime. Seeing Phantom was something I will never forget. I’ve seen many shows since, but never again have I seen Phantom. Before the show we went to my favorite restaurant, a barbecue place called Smokehouse. I was quite proud not to have spilled any barbecue sauce on my formal dress. At the end of our meal when we were waiting for the check, I was playing with my remaining French fries, and wouldn’t you know it, splat! I dropped ketchup on the front of my dress. I was able to get most of it off and still enjoyed the show afterwards, but it was quite the memory. My dad still brings it up when we go to that restaurant during trips home.
(Junior Senior Banquet that year, not the dress from the Phantom)
While these were secular obsessions and memories, I also have a few distinct spiritual memories from that year. It was a growing time for me. I had some close friends who I considered spiritual influences in the grade above me, and when they graduated and went off to college, I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. It was a good lesson, but one that was hard to learn at the time. I am thankful for the influences those individuals had on me, but also thankful that they left so I could learn to be my own person.