Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sweet 16 -- Chapter 13 in My Life Story

Some of the girl cousins on the Benzing's side at a family reunion
Armed with a driver's license, I could now drive my parent's black suburban packed full of girls to area sporting events.  That summer I took us to the Danville Dans games (college summer league team in town) at historic Danville stadium.  We loved eating nachos with jalepenos and having crushes on the ballplayers (though, since I was usually the oldest, it wasn't like we had the guts to TALK to them).  In the fall, we'd go to football games.  I was still "with" Steve, who now went to public school, and we usually brought a significant cheering section to his football games whenever possible.  We'd also try to go to our friend Scott's games in Georgetown -- he was the president of our youth group and a good friend of Nate's.  There were JV games on Tuesdays, and Varsity games on Friday, so even if I had to work, we could usually swing a game just about every week or more.

Speaking of work -- Nate and I started working at the Georgetown IGA in the fall of 1994.  My dad worked in the grocery business and suggested that we interview there.  I remember being so nervous at the interview, and stating firmly that we could not work on Wednesday nights or Sundays because of church.  Of course we were hired anyway!  Nate worked as a stock boy with a tie, collared shirt and apron, and I worked at the check out in my smock.  We usually were scheduled on the same days, which was convenient for riding together.  Nathan would drive on those country roads so fast, flying around the curves, but I was not scared of his driving!  I just didn't want to be late!  We worked hard, and had our share of interesting co-workers.  It was my first introduction to the REAL world.  Pretty sure one of the "nicer" kids I worked with was on meth.  He was always looking through the health and beauty section, and buying innocent looking stuff.  I totally didn't know about meth back then.  The girls I worked with would invite me to go drinking or cruising or whatever with them.  I never did, of course, but I tried to walk the line to keeping them liking me by not refusing to sell them lottery tickets or cigarettes (this was before the big laws about carding).  I was promoted to the office not long after I worked the register, so a couple times a week I was in charge of the little office there -- counting down the drawers, making up the deposits, and stowing everything in the safe.  One interesting aspect of the office was doing the lottery.  I could NOT believe how many poor people came every week to buy their lotto with their lucky numbers.  I also sold the scratch-offs through the window (thus me not being able to refuse to sell them to my 16-year-old coworkers).  I got in debates with this one interesting customer who was a teacher at the junior high (I think -- he was super interesting) that made me interested in apologetics, and tried to witness to the girls I worked with (oh, did I ever lack boldness!!).  Even though our 7 hour shifts with a 15 min break got tiring, I really liked working there.  I always felt like I did a good job, and liked greeting customers and packing paper grocery bags with precision (I was a great bagger -- comes from upbringing).  

Our homeschool group offered a Spanish class that year for highschoolers.  My friend Jamie's mom was the teacher, since she was fluent.  It was a great situation for those of us whose moms were not able to teach languages.  I LOVED my class.  It was really my first schooling situation, and I was determined to earn only A's (my mom rarely gave us grades).  My Spanish name was Gabriela, which I thought was very pretty.  We met together as a class twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Often we'd have friends spend the night Wednesday night after church, do our schoolwork together Thursday morning, and then ride with us to class.  That was especially nice for our friends who didn't have their driver's license yet, because then their moms didn't have to drive them to church for class.  I LOVED those Thursdays!  For a while, my friend Kristie took driver's ed at the same high school my "boyfriend" Steve went to, and sometimes I'd take her to her class and do my math in the car while I waited for her.  We were SO small town -- Steve would sometimes come outside and say hi to us at the car.  Kristie and her sister would do their Spanish homework with Anna and me, and it was like "going to school" to do that together.  I have such distinct memories of us all sitting on the floor in Anna's comfy bedroom with our A Beka Spanish books out. 

While living in Illinois, my family enjoyed attending University of Illinois sporting events.  We had season tickets for basketball, football and volleyball, and I loved getting to go to those games.  My dad asked each of us older kids what sporting event we would choose to go to if we could pick.  I loved baseball most of all, but knowing that the World Series isn't won in a night, I didn't want to risk picking that, so I picked the Super Bowl.  There was no real time guarantee, but I figured my dad would get tickets pretty quickly and I was right!  Super Bowl XXIX was at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida -- so I got to go to Miami in January!  I was stoked, and planning accordingly, used sunless tanner on my legs.  We left after Spanish class on a Thursday, and drove to Saint Louis (we were flying out of the airport the next morning).  Even though we'd stopped for dinner, we felt kind of hungry when we got to our hotel that night, so we ordered a pizza and wings (told you my appetite used to be big!).  That was the first time in my life I ever had heartburn -- eating wings before bed, haha! (Is this TMI?  Sorry, I remember lots of specifics).  I remember I tried to dress nicely for our flight, so I wore khakis and a polo shirt (planning on it being hot there).  Dad picked a convertible for our rental car, so we got in the sun right away! We ended up switching hotels several times to find something quite nice enough, but we ended up in a great one packed with other people headed to the big game.  There was lots to do at the stadium during the days leading up to game, so we went there -- and the beach, of course!  It was really fun eating out and driving around in our convertible.  The day of the Super Bowl, kickoff was scheduled at 6:00pm, and the gates opened at 11:00am.  We arrived at 9:00.  My dad usually operates in "hurry up and wait" mode.  It was fine with me.  We got in line to enter the stadium, and got to our seats while it was still REALLY empty.  Watching all the set up and people was almost as good as the game -- it was a big blow out: 49ers over the Chargers.  In fact, at the end of the 3rd quarter, dad suggested leaving early, beating the traffic and going to eat somewhere good.  As we left we said "you know we can't tell anyone we did this!  Leaving the Super Bowl early!"  HAHA!  I was dreaming of quesadillas, so I was perfectly happy to go out to eat.  That trip was so fun!  I remember calling my friends from the Super Bowl on my dad's cell phone (he was cutting edge then) and trying not to brag, but still be excited.

Me with my siblings and cousins at Easter 1995
My brother graduated from High School in 1995.  It was the first year there was a group of homeschoolers who wanted to have a graduation together, so my mom organized the first graduation ceremony for that homeschool group (and amazingly -- the traditions they started that year pretty much carry on EXACTLY the same today).  The kindergarten class wore white little caps and gowns and performed one thing they learned that year in homeschool -- my sister Emily was in the kindergarten graduating class.  The 8th graders wore formals and had their parents read something about them, praising them for their accomplishments and character.  The seniors each made speeches and then took flowers to their mothers as a thank-you (this year my sister Abby took each of her older sisters a rose since my mother was not there at her graduation).  Our Spanish class sang some songs and read scripture passages in Spanish.  I loved Nathan's graduation -- we had a huge party at our house and it was so fun!  I had no idea how quickly our family would change, since he was already dating his future wife, Janet (Nate would sit on the roof of our house, with a large photo of Janet, listening to classical music, and doing his schoolwork) .  It's amazing to think about when I look back.

I'm linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales!


Ginny Marie said...

What an exciting trip! I think your answer of Super Bowl was a great choice! So many fun things happened when you were a junior...thanks for writing them all down to share them with us!

Janna said...

So many fun details. Cutting edge cell phone... sitting on the organizing a graduation

gianna said...

You remember the first time you got heartburn? It must have been awful! Your brother and i graduated the same year! YOU GOT TO GO TO THE SUPER BOWL? How COOL are you!!!!!!!!!!!!