M.I.C.: Defending My "Crown"

5:00 AM

While Clark was away, my schedule was jam packed. I was working for the school newspaper, working two jobs, going to school, and taking care of our fur-babies. I was exhausted.

I complained. There's no way to tip-toe around that truth. I took advantage of the fact that my husband was gone. After all, I went from my parents' house straight into marriage. I had never known any life other than one that held someone, or more than one someone, caring for me. Maybe it made me a little spoiled, and maybe it made me even more high maintenance... but that's life.

I finally left my on-campus job to devote more hours to my job at Calvin Klein (an outlet store). I really loved the job and loved the people. It was a sort of safe haven, since I had started it right before Clark left and the employees there seemed to understand more than anyone else. Maybe because most of them were older than me and had been in relationships longer. I'm not sure. Either way, I ended up leaning on the people there as much as I could.

There was one employee who clearly viewed me as a young, spoiled, immature brat. No, she never used those words, but the way she spoke to me, looked at me, treated me... it was very clear. Granted, she was that way with a lot of people, but it felt as though she seemed to really focus on me.

At the store we had a sort of policy at closing. Usually there would be two employees, plus whatever managers were there. So, whichever employee got there first would get to go home first and not have to follow the manager to the bank. Because of this, I always made sure to get there early. It was worth it to me to show up ten minutes before I could clock in and get to leave early than to have to stay there late and drive home in the pitch-black-dark.

I hate driving at night. I'm actually dreadful at it, anyway, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. With Clark that was easy, but with gone it was a bit more difficult. Now, going home when he was there wasn't bad-- because I knew someone was waiting for me. But, going home without anyone waiting for me... it gave me goosebumps.

So, there was a day I was working with the said employee (who happened to be the floor supervisor) and we were just talking. The store was slowing down, there was another employee, and we were probably about an hour away from closing. I had a lot of homework, I was exhausted, and all I wanted was to be home. So I asked if I could go home early.

She laughed at me. "No, Emily, you can't."

All I said was, "OK." I didn't understand why it was funny, but I was not about to let my exhaustion turn into super crankiness. I knew that she and the assistant manager had been talking about me always going home early. My friend/co-worker had told me just as much. They couldn't fight it every time, though. It was the manager's wish that not everyone stay through closing. They didn't need to pay everyone for the hours. And if I was willing to sacrifice some money to go home early, they couldn't argue with it.

So I went about folding shirts, as I had been doing.

"You know, you're such a princess." This was directed at me.

"Excuse me?"

"You just think you're always supposed to get your way. I mean, why do you want to go home, anyway? It's not like anyone's there waiting for you."

"You're right. He's at bootcamp," I gave her a look that, thankfully, she didn't see. "I want to go home early because I have a lot of homework to do, and because I don't like driving home knowing that no one is there. So, the earlier it is, the less I freak myself out. But it's no big deal. I'm on the schedule until closing, so I'm here. I just thought I'd ask since the store was slowing down and there haven't been customers in here for the last hour."

"It's not like there's anyone waiting for me, either, but you don't see me freaking out."

"I'm not freaking out. That's not what I said."

"Would Clark pick you up? It just seems like you can't take care of yourself."

I was boiling inside. "I'm not a good night driver, and no he wouldn't. But he would be there waiting for me. Something to look forward to after a stressful drive. It's no biggy. I just thought I'd ask."

I walked away. I wasn't about to continue to go through that.

While this conversation was no really called for under the circumstances, I knew she had a point in calling me "princess". Clark being away gave me a chance to find something I hadn't even looked for since high school: independence. Like I said, I went from my parents' home to being married. I wasn't used to doing things just for myself, or entirely on my own. It may sound silly, but I was still searching. Clark being away gave me a chance to really do some things that I may have never done if he hadn't left.

I ended up going home early... go figure. I got on Facebook (such a bad decision) and made my status that I was a "princess who can do things for herself, but doesn't mind being taken care of," or something like that. The employee was my friend and commented, "I like it." (This was before Facebook had the "like" option I believe.

I wasn't ashamed of who I was, but I was angry for the ways he accused me of being it. Like somehow wanting to be taken care of, or wanting someone waiting for you at home, was such a bad thing. Isn't that what most people crave?

I may not have been looking for it, but after dealing with Clark's superiors in the Marine Corps, I definitely developed a "I-can-do-it-myself" attitude, and I wasn't about to let someone at work belittle what I had accomplished thus far during my time alone.

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