Life at Fifteen

I recently heard an interesting story on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. This was the last in a series of interviews with girls around the world about what it’s like for them to be fifteen and their hopes for the future. This time, the reporter talked to girls at a high school in Silver Spring, Maryland. To hear this, go to .

I was kicked out of a bar on my fifteenth birthday. My parents and younger brother Andy were with me. We had a lovely dinner at the Historic Sheridan Inn. A man played the organ and sang, and I requested one of my favorite songs. When I heard the familiar opening accompaniment, I was so excited that I knocked my Coke into my lap. To hear me sing this song with guitar accompaniment, go to .

At home earlier, Dad taught me how to dance so after dinner, we strutted our stuff along with other happy couples. When the dining room closed, we wandered into the bar where another man was playing the guitar and singing. We found a table, and Dad ordered Coke for me and Andy and something alcoholic for himself and Mother. The manager appeared and said, “Gee, I hate to tell you this, but after ten o’clock, no kids.”

It wasn’t the first time that happened, but because it was my birthday, it was especially disappointing. As far as I was concerned, that special day was ruined. As Dad guided me out the door though, he said, “Well, when you get up on that stage with your own guitar, you can tell your audience that story.” That was my aspiration back then, to be a singer like Olivia Newton-John.

Thirty-nine years later in August of this year, I took the stage with my guitar during Sheridan’s Third Thursday Festival downtown and told my audience that story, much to their amusement. I didn’t become a best-selling recording artist like Olivia-Newton-John, but maybe I’ll be a best-selling author. Who knows?

What was life like for you at fifteen? What were your hopes for the future? Did your parents have any ideas about what you should be, or did they support your aspirations? Please feel free to share in the comment field below.


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Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir with another novel on the way. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

4 thoughts on “Life at Fifteen”

  1. I like your story, Abbie. At fifteen, I was a shy girl, tall and thin. I wanted to be a writer, but didn’t tell anyone because it seemed like a crazy idea. But I wrote in my notebooks and journals. I wrote short stories about teenagers and Elvis Presley. I wrote about horses because I was in love with horses. At fifteen, I was not planning my future as kids must do today. I hear that freshmen in high school are asked by the school what they plan to do as a career. I probably would have said I wanted to be a school teacher because that was the only profession I knew anything about at that time. I did go on to college and become a teacher, but wish I had studied creative writing. I didn’t pursue my passion until I was fifty years old. That is a little late to accomplish what I had wanted. In my day, girls were supposed to get married and become a housewife, not have a career.


    1. When I was fifteen, it never occurred to me to want to be a writer. I didn’t think my writing was that good, especially since my mother rewrote my stuff most of the time. Like you, I wish now that I’d studied creative writing in college instead of music and music therapy. Thank you, Glenda, for your comment.


  2. Abbie–One aspect of my age fifteen is so easy to remember because that year was when I first heard from my eye specialist that I was “legally blind.” Nevertheless, due to a very gradual vision loss over many years, I took this new label in stride. Somehow, I was able to count my blessings–rather than focus on the degrees of diminishing vision. Thanks for another interesting post and entertaining audio link! Alice


    1. Thank you, Alice, I’m glad you were able to count your blessings despite the fact that you were labeled “legally blind.” The fact that you still had some vision was certainly a big help. I can just imagine what it would be like for a teen-ager to lose all her vision and have to start from scratch.


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