Age Fifteen: “Where the Boys Are . . .”

After the so-called senior recitalwhich should have marked an end point, should it not?—the piano saga continued.

I played in a piano competition in Memphis the fall I turned fifteen. I was the youngest competitor, which should have told me something. Also, I’d refused to practice as I should. I went blank in the performance, just lost it several measures in. I started over and played fairly well, but the damage was done. I was humiliated.

My teacher for nearly ten years didn’t feel she had anything else to offer me, so my mother dragged me once a week to a nearby small college where I fumed for an hour under the tutelage of a young piano professor who forced me to play Bartok. I hated every minute. I had better things to do now. Those lessons lasted an interminable year.

Oh, but that summer!

By this time, my parents invited my best friend to go along on our beach trips. We usually stayed at Panama City Beach, in motels with names like Trade Winds and Surf and Sand. One year, we could see the amusement park just down the beach. We could walk there. (Chaperoned, of course.)

Here we are, prepping for the beach. And the second photo shows you what we found: a lifeguard. Cute, isn’t he? And he was mine!

Friend Sarah and I check out the beach. I’m on the left.


He had a friend, too, for my friend, which worked out nicely. We mostly talked to these boys when they were off duty during the day, but one evening, my folks allowed us to invite the boys up to the motel (my parents had to meet them, of course), and then we were allowed to sit around the pool and walk on the beach. I don’t remember this boy’s name. I never saw him again. But it was heady stuff.

I had gone from little girl a year before to full-fledged teenager. Still no dates. Still no kisses. But I was on my way!

That friend, by the way, is still around. She and I don’t talk or write often, but when we do, it’s as though we pick up where we left off. Occasionally, she’ll send me a photo from when we were girls together. I do the same. Friendships like that, and memories of beaches and lifeguards, don’t fade with time.

Is there a particular place you associate with the time when you went from child to teen? A particular friend or experience? Tell me about it!

This is the fifteenth post in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge. Thanks, Jane Ann McLachlan, for the challenge.

7 thoughts on “Age Fifteen: “Where the Boys Are . . .”

  1. Vacations were not part of our family experience. I did enjoy getting away from home through student government conferences during the HS years. It was a weekend when I could seek to be the person I wanted to be.


  2. I loved this, Gerry! Mine was a summer house on a lake in Michigan. My uncle, who chaperoned me one summer, still comments how I signalled the boy three houses down that I had arrived by running to hang the flag out front. One summer, we were playing flashlight tag in the woods; the next summer we weren’t kids anymore.


  3. I like the summer story, too. And the friend to have along while talking to boys. No beaches in Missouri, but we had carnivals and fairs with similar experiences.


  4. I remember going to the beach the summer I turned 15 with my best friend. We didn’t meet any boys but when we got back home, we told our male friends we had to make them jealous. It worked. The boys we’d left at home paid a lot more attention to us that summer. Tami and Justin and Toby and me, just riding around in Toby’s GTO, eating Twizzlers, laying in the grass at Reston Town Center, playing on the playground at that park in Great Falls. Wow. Thanks for reminding me.


  5. What a great summer story. I love how you turn it into the pivotal moment between child and teen. I don’t think I had a summer like that – I was a mishmash – sometimes pursuing the interests of a teen, sometimes those of a child, sometimes a bookworm, sometimes a philosopher, then back to a giggling teen. I didn’t fit in anywhere. High school was tough. But everything came together in university.
    Jane Ann


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