This morning, while I was walking through the parking garage on my way to work, a young girl of about 20 years old stopped me after I strode in front of her idling car. "Excuse me??” she begged in a panicked voice. I leaned towards her open driver’s side window with a polite smile. She frantically gestured her right hand towards me, in which she clutched her credit card and the ticket she had received when she entered the garage and asked me in a panicked voice how to get out of the garage. She had been trying to pay at the kiosk located at the exit, so I gently directed her to the pre-pay kiosks located at the pedestrian entrance to the parking structure, and told her that you pay before you got back to your car. She thanked me enthusiastically and I could hear the relief in her voice...she had probably been trying to exit for a long time.
For a minute I kinda wanted to laugh at her, as I made my way along the sidewalk that led me to my office. "Duh," I thought to myself. "Who doesn't know that you have to pre-pay in most modern parking garages??" But then I started thinking back to what it felt like to be helpless - to be clueless about so many of the ins and outs of life. I'm not talking about being an adolescence - a ditsy teenager with nothing but optimism and wonder about the world - I'm talking about those formative years that school pretends to prepare you for, and that bewilderment when you finally enter the real world to find that the armor of self importance and conquer-the-worldness you were taught to have was just a facade.
Turning 18 and moving from the only home I had ever known in a sheltered - albeit hated - suburban town to Los Angeles was a kick in the pants, no matter how ready to be "on my own" I was. I thought back to that time and relief flooded me. Being self sufficient is a state that money can't by. Not having to rely on anyone, knowing the who, what, why and how's of life leaves one with a confidence that no amount of conscience effort can mirror.
Looking back, I know that I got a lot of that experience and knowledge from my long relationship with an older dude. It must have been slightly maddening for him during those first couple years, to be with someone so dependent and inexperienced. In the end, I think the fact that I wasn't that person anymore, that I had gleaned all that knowledge from him yet he still kinda saw me as and treated me like that naive 22 year old led to our demise. I was ready to prove myself to...well, to myself. And I have.
In the meantime, though, I haven't yet learned how to let down my guard and not be that independent person that I went through so much to liberate. I think I'm terrified of losing it, as I've only been in a relationship as a less-than, not as an equal. I've yet to have a relationship that had a healthy level of symmetry, if that makes any sense. When I think back to the one longish/serious relationship I've had in the last two years, I realize that a lot of the shitty things that happened (jealousy, arguments, etc) was based on me reverting back to the needy girl I had always been in past relationships. So not healthy.
I guess the secret is to find that perfect balance of receptiveness and self reliance, with a person who complements us yet still has something new to offer us. Right? I dunno. I think I need to keep in mind, when it comes down to it, that sometimes we all need a little help getting out of the parking structure, and sometimes I'll be the one behind the wheel with a credit card clutched in one hand, pleading to be shown how to exit. Yeah, I need to work on that analogy a little.
P.S. Remember that 20 Something Bloggers assignment where we were to post a blog entry from our first two months blogging? Well my post was one of the seven chosen to receive a ton of free Ben & Jerry's ice cream coupons, which I'll pass out to all you lovelies just as soon as I get em! In the mean time, go here and read all the winning entries - Blogger Carnival: Looking Back
P.P.S. I'm getting my wisdom teeth yanked from my fucking face tomorrow morning! I'm scared!!!