notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Growing Up

I have been reflecting on my lack of a summer vacation this year.

I’m not complaining. We had a fabulous trip to Jamaica in March – which will satisfy us for a year at least. Maybe two years if we want to pay for that trip before we travel again.

We have a beautiful yard and a patio that is just made for reading and napping. And for variety, napping and reading.

So I’m happy.

But there’s something about going away on vacation that makes you step outside yourself. As much as I love the comfortable, secure feeling of being home, there’s something about being AWAY that makes me feel like someone new.

I remember my first “grown-up” vacation.

1969. I had just graduated from high school. I had never had a vacation without Mom and Dad and the whole family. My mother entertained me with tales of her first “adult” vacation. She had been about my age. She said it was the sweetest memory – being on her own for the very first time. Grown-up. She was enthusiastic about giving me a similar experience.

So my father helped me rent a cottage in Westbrook, Connecticut from one of his friends. Dad drove me down there the week before vacation to show me where it was. I was awed. It was more than a cottage – it was a lovely four-bedroom home a block from the beach.

My two best friends and I pooled our money. It was a little tight because we thought we might want to eat a little something while we were there. So we got another girl to pitch in too. She was a quiet girl I didn’t know well, but she planned on spending her week with a pile of books – so she was okay by me.

We drove down in my friend Chris’s car – which was a Mustang. In 1969, that was about as good as it got.

We had our linens and towels and clothes and whatever food our mothers packed up for us. But we didn’t really bring too much food – we wanted to grocery-shop for ourselves. How sweet it seemed to actually pick out your own food.

First things first, though. How better to feel like a grown-up than to have an immediate crisis?

Almost upon arriving, Chris fell down the stairs. On the landing she hit the wall hard with her foot. Her toe immediately swelled up.

We looked in the phone book for a hospital, but didn’t see anything nearby. I was supposed to be a grown-up. I hated the thought of calling my mother. But Mom was a nurse and would know what to do, so I swallowed my pride and called. “It’s probably broken,” Mom said. “But don’t worry about it. Broken toes just mend on their own.”

And so, eighteen and on vacation, I didn’t worry about it.

We didn’t call our parents again for the rest of the week. We were on vacation. We were AWAY. We were adults. We were an HOUR away from home.

Chris was a trouper too. She had a hard time driving, but she did her best, and she reluctantly (since it was her Dad’s car, really) let one of us get behind the wheel once in a while. I’d had my license for 40 whole days, so Chris wisely excluded me from the driver’s pool.

My other friend Mary and I set up a card table on the big screened front porch. We even found a tablecloth. We took all our meals there, in the cool ocean breeze. Breakfast on the porch. Coffee and toast with marmalade.

A couple of boys came to visit – the boy Mary was seeing, and his friend – who in my mind was the most gorgeous boy I ever met. I flirted shamelessly. I had a two piece bathing suit and a tan. What more did I need?

The weather was spectacular – dry and hot. Where the heat rose from the pavement in waves. Waves on the water. Waves on the road. The radio played “Sweet Caroline” three times an hour.

We ate mostly hotdogs and potato chips. One evening, we went out to eat at a very nice restaurant that overlooked the marina. I had lobster. Truly a grown-up meal. I wanted a glass of wine – but we were under the legal age. I didn’t even try to pass for 21 – I may have been 18, but I looked 15.

We went to an inexpensive drive-in that specialized in second-run films. We propped Chris’s foot on a pillow and watched “Barefoot in the Park.” I had never before seen Robert Redford. I approved.

Every evening, Mary and I brewed another pot of coffee and retired to the porch. Most nights we sat on that porch till 3:00AM, whispering and giggling and telling secrets in the dark.

She wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a nurse.

“I think you will be something else,” Mary said.

She was right.

High School Graduation, 1969. A Grown-Up.

High School Graduation, 1969. A Grown-Up.

57 Comments

  1. How cool. So much like a movie – broken toe and all!

    Like

  2. wonderful story, I hope you enjoyed your trip while you were in Jamaica. and hopefully, visit again soon.

    Like

  3. sassycoupleok

    Great story, we kept waiting for the juicy parts……..lol Childhood paradise what a great memory !!

    Like

    • No juicy parts. I was still so innocent. But that was the joy of it too.

      Like

  4. How wonderful that you were able to do this at 18! I can feel the freedom in your words, sitting on the screened in porch, enjoying each others company. Thank you for sharing this part of your life.

    Like

    • It was wonderful. And it was wonderful too that my parents helped to give me that experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived across the Sound from you on L.I. and graduated in 1969 too.
    Freedom was all I longed for, to be a grown-up, and I got to relive that through your lovely story.
    Thank you!

    Like

    • It was a marvelous time to be young. So exciting, everything changing so fast.

      Like

  6. Wow, what a perfect and perfectly written coming-of-age story! So nostalgic! Everyone should have such an experience. Sounds tame by today’s standards, but maybe contemporary 18-year-olds are more innocent than they appear. (I hope so.)

    Sadly, I missed out on the ritual, so I’ll tell you about my father’s experience.

    Age 19, end-of summer, Labor Day week, in the company of two first-cousins and one friend, all same age, they drove from Washington to Atlantic City in an uncle’s Dodge. It was 1939. A girl in a bar asked what hotel they were staying at?

    “We’re at the Hotel Dodge.”

    “Where’s that?”

    “Oh, just down the street.”

    Actually, they were sleeping on the beach, and sneaking up the back stairs of a hotel to use the bathroom. Young people could get away with such things in 1939.

    One morning they awoke on the beach. A newsboy was hawking papers on the boardwalk. Headline: “Hitler Invades Poland.”

    “We didn’t know where Poland was. Didn’t think it was important.”

    Not too many months later, all of them were in the Army.

    How quickly innocence is lost. Or is it?

    Like

    • Such a poignant story.

      Like

    • That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      Like

  7. How adult! Coffee on the porch anytime you want it. Guys to flirt with and a tan too. Doesn’t get any better than that! I still could live on potato chips. It’s a very important food group.

    Like

    • I still love potato chips. I no longer eat much “junk food” – but I don’t consider potato chips junk food. They are essential to my well-being.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah….I loved reading this! I can so relate to that era, although I was (ahem) a couple of years younger than you. My first car (after I graduated and got a job) was a Mustang, and I clearly remember the very first time I ever heard Sweet Caroline on the radio. Those were the days, my friend.

    Like

    • I wouldn’t like to be eighteen again – except for that one week. For that week – I would go back.

      Like

  9. Ray G

    And you still approve of Redford, dontcha?

    Like

    • He didn’t age as well as I would have wished… but yeah, I still approve.

      Like

  10. Chris

    Oh Boy – I think it was $65 each. I certainly remember my black foot which we didn’t know had turned black in the dark of the drive-in until we got home and I couldn’t get out of the back seat, then I had to go up those stairs to the porch by scooting up on my rear-end – then we got me into a lighted room and were shocked at what had become of my foot. I was so glad that I only had to wear sandals and we had an ocean to play in – the pain goes away in the ocean. And you also know very well that the cute guy is now married for 42 years to a very lovely lady. And you also know by my FB post that I was in Westbrook on Saturday! Nice little town by the shore.

    Like

  11. Chris

    And you remembered it was a Mustang!

    Like

  12. Deb

    Hawaii, just after high school graduation with a few girlfriends. Best! Vacation! Of! My! Life!

    Like

  13. Agree with you about Redford, he isn’t like a fine wine, he hasn’t improved! Your vacation sounds wonderful… how fun… great memories and thank you for sharing them… DAF

    Like

  14. Great story, how nice that your parents helped you go away on your first vacation. Westport is right up the road from here. Wouldn’t mind renting a beach house there for a week. Coffee on the front porch, beach a block away, good friends for company. Perfection.

    Like

    • This was Westbrook, not Westport… I could NEVER have afforded Westport – but it was a perfect first grownup vacation anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You were a mighty cute grownup and your first vacation was a true adventure.

    Like

    • It’s funny – I didn’t think I was at all cute at the time, but now I think I was very cute back then ….

      Like

  16. wonderful memories you shared here.

    Like

  17. That was a lovely story and a lovely memory to have.

    Like

    • I actually looked up the house on the map as I was writing this story. It’s still there – after 46 years. It made me happy to see it has survived well.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Christine

    I don’t think I went on a vacation trip without Mom and Dad until I was married! But I did go to New York City for the day with a friend while we were still in high school. We thought that was a real adventure.

    Like

    • Yes, but weren’t you about 15 when you got married?

      Like

      • Christine

        Actually, I was 20. I guess going off to college was my first grown up thing. My first roommate was having an affair with a 40-year old married man — that was a shocker, especially coming from a family and circle of friends as generally well=behaved as ours was.

        Like

        • Wow… I never knew that about your roommate – what culture shock for you!

          Like

  19. Memories … light the corners of my mind … Freshman year, University of Oregon, spring break of 1972. Road trip with 4 gals to the Oregon Coast. We were all underage, but the boyfriend of one of my dorm mates was not, so we brought Boones Farm, Strawberry Hill with us. Not exactly the Napa wines to which I am now accustomed.

    Anyway, the most grown up thing I did on that trip was to purchase two Rosewood candle holders for my parents. I was SO proud when I went home for the summer that I could present them with these Oregon-specific souvenir gifts. That gift certainly didn’t make up for the 4 years of college tuition they were to pay by the time I graduated, but it felt good to buy something for them. That gift was used lots of times in the ensuing years and when my mother died in 1994 and we helped dad downsize, those gifts went with me to my home as an adult.

    Like

    • I also remember the first “Grownup” gift I gave my parents – also candlesticks! My mother still has them on her mantle.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. LauraBelle

    That sounds like a perfect first vacation.

    Like

    • Oh, it was. I wouldn’t change a thing (except for my friend’s toe, of course.)

      Like

  21. Dana

    Except for your friend’s hurt toe, that vacation sounds like heaven!
    I never had a vaca on my own. By the time I was old enough, my mom’s poor health made me decide to just stay home with her.

    Like

    • If you still haven’t done it, do it now! I would heartily recommend a cottage by the sea. If that is not an option, try a bed-and-breakfast – you can get some of the same porch-sitting!

      Like

      • Dana

        Mom can’t travel. I have to stay with her. My vacation is vicarious, through cable tv, and your stories!

        Like

        • I’m glad you can “arm-chair” travel, and give your Mom what she needs. Your day will come.

          Like

  22. Tom

    My first grown-up vacation was after I graduated college (except that I still wasn’t very grown up). My friend Andy and I decided to go to London to experience British punk. It was 1979, so we missed punk by 2 years, London was retro-mod. We knew we needed passports so we did that. Plane tickets: no. We just drove to the airport and expected to get on a plane like getting on a bus. We got tickets for the following day. The budget for food and beer was pretty slim, but we had a great time watching darts on television.

    Like

    • Can you imagine now traveling without plane tickets? How terrifically innocent we were back then!

      Like

  23. Love the napping or reading. And for variety… reading or napping. Funny!

    Like

  24. Hotdogs and potato chips? I think there’s potential there for the latest fad diet.

    Anyway, it sounds like a wonderful first foray out into the world of adults.

    Like

  25. Idyllic, that is the only word that comes to mind. Has adult been all it was cracked up to be?

    Like

  26. Loved taking this “trip” with you, what an adventure, and so apropos that you young adults wouldn’t really think through the food part until needed. My first real trip (without parents) was on a flight to Vancouver with my cousin; we were 12 and thought the stewardesses were so sophisticated. It was a non-stop flight and we were met by family, but in our mind, we were “off to see the world” — at least for a 2 1/2 hour flight 🙂

    MJ

    Like

    • I’m sure you felt very grown up. I didn’t fly for the first time until I was 21. And to Mexico, where I even needed a passport! Now kids think it’s just ho-hum.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: