It was the first time I'd gone anywhere, just me and the car, without a single person with me.
It was ... exhilarating!
It was ... sobering.
I went to Curves and worked out. By myself. And it turned out that I was the only person in the gym at that hour besides the owner who was running it. She and I chatted while I jumped, bounced, hopped, skipped, and did all sorts of things on the machines like pulling levers and pushing bars and moving things back and forth. (I love Curves....)
We had quite a conversation! She asked me where we went to church, where my family was from, and what my daddy did for a living. I basically got the sweet, Southern, interrogation. :D If you live in the South, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. :D It was well-meant, of course, and the lady is the sweetest woman, but she was finding out everything she needed to file me away in her social records. Did I belong in the aristocrat section or the downtrodden dumpster-diver section? :D
She told me that she thought I was very well-spoken and my speech was precise and easily comprehended. Also that I didn't have a southern accent. ;) I was touched by the honest compliment that I was "well-spoken". She wasn't "sloppin' sugar", like I've seen before. (the sugar-sloppers will remain nameless to protect the guilty) ;)
I really am seriously thinking of writing a novel set in a small town in the South. There's so much material right at my fingertips! ;)
But anyway. What was I talking about? Ah - independence.
On the way there, my usually quiet drive got crowded when I was stopped at an intersection while a long string of schoolbuses rolled out onto the road, halted by flashing lights and a signaling policeman. While stopped, a whole bunch of cars got clogged up, which made changing lanes up ahead a little difficult, but I kept my cool and did a great job. I parked smoothly and danced up the steps into the gym.
This sounds silly, but going there all by myself made me feel like a grown woman.
Which, I guess, technically, I AM. I'm almost 21, after all. Some days I feel so young and inexperienced... more like 15 than 20. And then other days, I feel like I can handle myself like an adult. When we're running a booth at the homeschool conventions I can handle crowds of people with endless questions without even breaking a sweat. My feet might get sore from standing all day, but my composure never falters.
It's on the days I'm tired and stressed and I get annoyed with the housework, food prep, or my brothers that my immaturity shows. Why is it so easy to present a perfect facade to the outside world, but so difficult to be meek and quiet and kind at home when the pressure's on to get dinner on the table, the clothes in the washing machine, or help a family member out?
It's on the home front where the true test of maturity shows the real results. Who I am in private, under the sheen of capability and social graces on the surface, is who I really am. The way I interact with the people I am closest to defines my character.
The trip home was uneventful. I cranked up the radio and sang along as loudly as I wanted to, with no fellow passengers around to complain or ask me to hush up. (All the while watching the speedometer like a hawk, lest it creep past the requisite 5 miles over the speed limit, because if you're over 10 miles over, a cop will pull you over, you know...) ;)
Daddy and Steven welcomed me home, standing in the driveway on their way back from checking on the chickens. I tapped the horn in a victorious "beep" and waved as I pulled into the carport.
My family told me they were proud of me. I can handle myself in the real world just fine.
My desire is that my conduct at home, in the comfort of familiar surroundings, around my family, is as sparkling and sterling as my behavior out there where everybody can see it.