Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diary of a Sheltered Girl

I've lived a sheltered life, apparently. Someone I know recently said that, and the comment, quite plainly, pissed me off. After reflecting a bit, however, I considered the source. For most of my family and many of my friends, independence, career, and world travel are considered Verboten for women. Most of my family and friends are not world travelers, and while a few have achieved college--even advanced degrees--most have been content to live their lives in what I consider stale conventionality. For most of my family, life means losing oneself in a spouse and children. I'm not criticizing that option, mind you, but I was not destined to live my life in that manner.
In some ways, I have traveled a very conventional road: college, work for a while, and then graduate school. For many of the people I knew, graduate school for a woman was an anomaly. A friend's mother said, "Five years? It's going to take five years?" She then rolled her eyes in disbelief. Hell, I was going to be five years older anyway. Why not work on a degree. Still others said, "You don't want to meet a nice young man and get married?" Still others said, "Why would you want to live in the outpost of College Station, Texas?" I did finish the degree, but I knew academia wasn't for me. Nonetheless, I loved the ride, the adventure. The most fun I had was living in a fourplex with engineering majors, foreign students, and a gay hairdresser. At night, I read Kant, Foucault, and Schiller with my British Romanticism and loved every second. Of course, many of my friends and family couldn't understand why I wasn't yearning for a house in the suburbs with a car, husband, and three children. Why, after all, would I subject myself to such rigorous brain activity? Why hadn't I just gotten the standard MRS. degree and popped out babies?
When I settled on teaching, I decided I would travel frequently. The sheltered girl has crossed the Atlantic several times and has visited many places in the States--even on my limited funds. The first time I crossed the Atlantic, I did so with friends who were determined to take in London theatre and night life. I worked my way through college, so why not? What the hell--it's always been my motto. One night, I dodged my friends for an afternoon out. (I always was a bit of a loner). New Year's Eve was in full swing, and on the way back to the hotel, I encountered many revelers at Trafalgar Square. Scores of people jumped into the fountain. I was in an amazing white coat, but then, my motto kicked in. What the hell? I jumped in, too. When I returned, my mother took one look at the coat and said, "I see you had a good time." I cold only sheepishly giggle and say, "Yes, ma'am." She raised her eyebrows, suppressed a smile, and said, "Take this to the cleaners, for God's sakes." Mama, God rest her. She had a sense of humor and knew me when many people did not--and apparently still don't.
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  1. Good for you! My family never understood why I'd want to leave Dallas. After all, they never had! But at least they encouraged me to get an education. Not that I always took their advice. Congratulations on following your own path.
    FYI: I found you through LinkedIn's Writers' Cafe "Show Me Your Website." My blog is: