A Coming of Age

My aunt posted to her Facebook last week that it was her tenth wedding anniversary.

The first thing I thought was, “Holy shit. Where did ten years go?”

This was me ten years ago, catching the bouquet:

Ten years ago, I was a month shy from turning seventeen. I was a bridesmaid in my aunt’s wedding (I must say, I was very proud of the way I analyzed the bouquet toss – I knew that from the angle it was being thrown at, it was going to be much closer to the bride than where everyone else was standing.)

Looking back, it was a big summer for me – a coming-of-age, if you will.  I was learning how to drive, a prospect that TERRIFIED ME.  TERRIFIED ME. I originally trained with my dad.  He was not a warm-and-fuzzy driving instructor, which caused me to clam up even more behind the wheel.  My previous driving attempts with my dad would usually end with me bursting into tears, my nearly driving off the road blindly because someone was behind me, or near fatal errors like switching lanes without looking. Finally, my dad couldn’t take it anymore and shipped me off to driving school.  I purposely chose an old lady to train with, because I figured she’d be easier on me.  I literally thought I was going to die the first time I had to drive on a freeway.  But I wanted to have adventures and eventually get past my fear, so I think Little Jenny would be pleased to know that ten years later, she would be driving back and forth between major Texas cities.

But the most monumental thing I remember from that summer is discovering music, specifically classic rock. I’d been woefully ignorant of music, never listening to it like my classmates. I finally was tired of feeling left out and not knowing any bands, so I started making a concerted effort to listen to the radio to educate myself.  One night, about a week before my aunt’s wedding, I was flipping through the channels and heard this song:

It wasn’t the first time I had heard that song – Pink Floyd is my dad’s favorite band, after all. But it was the first time I really heard it, listened to it with concentration.  At the time, I thought it was the most beautiful song I had ever heard.  I felt chills as I sat and listened in awe.  I’ve listened to the song so many times since that I can never recapture the feeling I had when I first heard it; I wish I could rewind back to that moment. When it was done, I thought, I must hear that song again.

So I started listening to the radio every night, curled up with a good book like the Poisonwood Bible, which I read that summer and adored.  I would write in my journal and listen to artists I hadn’t heard before – Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath.  I didn’t know it then, but listening to that music would shape who I would be as an adult, would completely change who I was.

I look at myself ten years later and see someone who has finally grown into some semblance of adulthood. I am nothing and everything like the girl I was then.  And I feel poised on the precipice of something new and significant, like that summer.  I just don’t know what it is yet.

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