Pizza Dreams and Hey Nineteen

Hey I’ve got a life hack for you. And I mean a real life hack.

Not like lint brushing your car or tying a red ribbon around your suitcase. I mean, like to be a photographer or writer so that you can capture memories you won’t otherwise remember. Another life hack is to republish old writing – not only because you have something to say but have already said it better – but because it makes you remember captured memories you wouldn’t otherwise have remembered. Even if it wasn’t that long ago. I’ve always thought you can almost touch memories.

Really it’s that they can touch you.

I was 19, bookended by two BIG summers, and I was a bundle of hormones and pizza dreams.

I’ve even written a short story about that one summer, the second best of my life, and read it aloud to my Creative Writing class. What bravery! I had a major crush on a poet named Kyle in my class and he found me in the dining hall after class, touched my arm and said, “Your story. Pizza Dreams. It hit me.. right here. In the heart.” Then he put his hand on his heart, put his hands in his pockets, and ambled away. This is pretty much the crushiest thing you can do to a girl like me.

That story wasn’t written until I was 21 anyway, so why are we talking about it? Oh yeah. Hormones.

Let’s start at the beginning. I celebrated New Year’s 2000 when I was 19, and I was petrified. Somehow, I found myself invited to a fancy dinner party so I dressed up, grabbed my boyfriend, and partied all night. I may or may not have gotten slight food poisoning by something that night, and I was embarrassed to tell him. Eventually he asked me why I kept running away the next morning and I told him why and he laughed. “You think THAT is going to make me love you less?” Feeling much better later that night, on this day after the clock struck 2000, I went to visit the family I had babysat for ten years, and we had a wicked Mario Kart marathon. I got dizzy – from food poisoning dehydration, or maybe from trying to wrap my brain around it all – the year 2000 and my place in it. The world and the world’s computers didn’t break after all.

I sometimes wonder just a little.

The second best summer of my life was the summer I turned 20, halfway in. The summer I turned 19 was my first summer with a boyfriend, and that was where the hormones really came in. Life sort of hinged on summer nights and the best ways to get him alone, which was challenging since we both lived with our parents that summer. Then school started and I had a seriously insane roommate who talked to her stuffed animals and didn’t sleep, and the college dorms had these creepy, sketchy underground tunnels full of abandoned rooms with couches. I was one of the sketchy people using those tunnels.

The summer I said goodbye to 19 was the second best summer of my life. We went to Orlando in July and hit every theme park in 100 degrees. I remember sitting in the front row of the splash deck at SeaWorld and just putting out my arms and thinking, “Shamu, give it your best shot.” Getting soaked by an orca whale felt quite good, and then later I found the perfect studded hemp necklace for my boyfriend at a street vendor near Universal Studios. Little did I know then that my boyfriend would lose that necklace and be heartbroken, and then several years later I’d find myself back at that same street vendor near Universal Studios and I’d find the same hidden necklace. And I’d wonder about the appropriateness of sealing it in an envelope with a letter that would say, “It was clearly meant for you to have.” And that we’d almost get back together, for that or many other reasons, but maybe.. clearly we weren’t each other’s to have. That would be all right too.

My sister and mom got lost in an alligator-filled river later that week, and I waved to Duran Duran in a record store. I came home to my ridiculously awesome pizza delivering job which contributed to the second best summer of my life. Truly, the stories that fill that summer deserve 17 posts of their own, but let’s just say I had a crush on the short order cook. It was all very innocent, back then, and little did I know that the summer would end and that my car would explode on the side of Route 287, and that I’d fall for my best guy friend. My first love would survive the short order cook, but not the guy friend..

..that’s a story about being 20, though.

This is the life hack. This is why we write, and this is why we take pictures. Only a few years in of kid wrangling and career building and it’s almost just a faint spark, but I can bring it all back in an instant, and it’s like it never left at all, did it?

Today’s Finish the Sentence Friday topic is “My favorite life hack is…” and there’s still time to write yours. Come link up if you have a spin on that great topic – and I hope it’s about lint brushing your car or tying ribbons on luggage: HERE.

“Hey Nineteen
No we can’t dance together
No we can’t talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down” — Steely Dan

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  1. Love, Love, Love. The music, the pictures, the words. And you are so young. it bums me out – for me. And I agree so many posts could be written with the prompt. I barely scratched the surface.

  2. Oh nineteen! I was living in Spain. It was pretty awesome! Did you keep the hemp necklace to mail to him someday? I just found a box of trinkets in my closet with keepsakes from past loves. Not sure what to do with that.

    1. haha, then it must have been fun!
      Sadly, Pizza Dreams isn’t here. I wrote it out… like a paper. I’m old! And I used an ancient computer to type it. My mom might still have it, though! I should ask.

  3. Aw, man you so brought me back and when I was 19 I totally thought I was in love with my then boyfriend, too. The hormones that I could fill in one article would be on overload if I wrote about it, but still that time was something else for me, as well.

  4. Oh, my goodness, I barely remember being 19. It was so long ago. I do know I worked all summer long at a law firm and I hated every minute of it, but I needed the money for college. Your summers sound much more fun than mine were! But I had a blast in college, so that made up for the sucky summers. All that hard work paid off in the long run.

    1. Good! And that definitely makes up for it. I didn’t have a ton of fun in college itself. I used to study on weekends! At least I’m somewhat using my journalism degree these days.. Somewhat.

  5. OH! You know I want in on this because I love your ideas, and what was more fun and roller coaster than 19?? Full day of commitments (which are more like fun: movies, parties, birthdays, art, grocery shopping). Tomorrow I am all over this!

    1. Ooh, I can’t wait to hear about yours!! I’ll be reading. I totally read blogs on weekends.
      I miss being 19 sometimes.. like when I want to sleep for a whole day.

    1. Right! I think I’d like it for a weekend maybe. Of feeling less tired.
      Then I think about all the heartache I still had to go through… shudder.

  6. That sounds like two awesome summers πŸ™‚ At 19 I was pregnant and gave birth to my handsome son. πŸ™‚ Back then, it was confusing; thinking back now, it was prefect timing. Gives me a lot of time to settle and make up for any “delays” accrued. I feel like the walls are enclosing – I want to be home and rest. The hormones are driving me insane. I’m so worn out lol damn female time of the month, Aunt Irma. Everything feels like a huge obstacle and a bore. How’s your weekend going? Take Care lovely Tam Tam, beautiful story about two wonderful summers -Iva

    1. That’s a big deal, my dear!
      My weekend hasn’t quite started, but it will. The entire family has been passing around a heinous cold and I seriously want to cry. I hope I feel ok this weekend.
      I hope you do too!

      1. Haha yes it was πŸ™‚ Oh that’s the worse! Did you catch it? I’m feeling better after extensive napping and resting. Making rice pudding just because. It’s going to be delicious. It never disappoints. πŸ™‚ Later we’re going to go watch the new Peanuts movie, I’m stoked.

          1. Boo!!! Are you feeling any better?? I need a vacay too – the one I had didn’t count. It was more like a horror film – er the potential start of one. Lol. I don’t, please come have some – it is delicious and no one seems to appreciate it in the house but me! Saddness.. I’m going to attempt to make Malt Chocolate Doughnuts, oh how I wish you’d be around to try some. πŸ™‚

  7. I don’t really remember 19 that much. I guess it was the first year of college. I would have been dating Ken at that point. I worked at KMart. I babysat. I wasted a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. I guess that’s what 19 is for!

  8. I’m so fascinated by the underground tunnels you had at your college! Where the hell was that?!

    Also you had some pretty spectacular romances in your life πŸ™‚ I love that you found the hemp necklace all those years later. Funny, life, huh?

    I can’t really remember too many things about that time, but it was a good adjustment to college and independence and I went to some pretty kick ass parties πŸ™‚

    You write so beautifully, Tamara. XOXO

  9. When I was 19 I was working a full time job at Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson affiliate in Somerville, N.J. We made various wound closure and surgery closure products, but mainly needles and sutures. After a yeat at King’s College I was attending Raritan Valley Community College. At Ethicon I worked in the Quality Assurance Dept. It was a good job and we were very busy at the time.I was in my last year as a member of my Church’s Youth Group. I was sad to outgrow that special group of adolescents and young adults. We helped each other through our various awkward growing up experiences. I was playing second base in a softball league. When I wasn’t suffering with a painfully crippling flare up I’d have to say that 19 was a very nice age!

    1. Wow, I used to work near J&J and go to Rutgers, of course. It was many people’s dreams to work there.
      I love learning more about you, and glad for your time spent without flare ups!

  10. Trippy that you were 19 when Y2K happened (says the older Gen-X gal). Heck, Y2K is trippy–and then to think it was so long ago now. Gulp. I like the image of you begging Shamu to drench you. I’m with you on surviving weird roommates at 19, too. Why oh why did someone think it was great for all college kids to have roommates? Nobody ever heard of singles?

    1. Remember how scary it seemed then?? And now it’s.. 15 years ago. Oh dear.
      It was so hard to get a single at my college. So basically we were all stuck together and with no a/c.
      Never again.

  11. It’s wonderful to be part of a chapter in a girl’s life and it’s painful to be part of a chapter in a girl’s life, depending on how the chapter ends and how the next chapter starts. These boys were lucky. All.

  12. As my kids both recently survived that first year with roommates I can so relate to this. Yours talked to stuffies? Ouch. My son’s gf’s currently says nothing. At all. She is very glum so I suspect the gf hangs out with my son most days. As for pizza delivery – I’m impressed. Ours are all grumpy, old men.

    1. I had a crazy one for every year of college! I have stories that rattle my bones. Terrible!

      What’s funny about delivering pizza at age 19 is that you could tell people were expecting something different. I once had a kid open his door a smidgen and his mom was behind him yelling, “Don’t let him in!” Then she comes to the door, sees my face, opens the door wide and says, “Tammy?? Aren’t you Karen Klein’s daughter? She taught me art!”


  13. Other than meeting my future hubs, I don’t remember all that much about 19. I was a sophomore in college. I never fit in – not too nerdy, not too party girl. I hung out with David and his fiends but they drank a lot and I was only 19 so I couldn’t (and when I was where I could I didn’t – because I’m lame.) It’s weird, though, because e19 was the start of the rest of my life since that’s when I met him. Sometimes, I think I missed out on being 18/19/20/21 because I didn’t party, etc., but I guess what I got was even better! πŸ˜‰

  14. Wait, your car exploded? Holy cow! And yeah, 19 was fun, huh? Fun, hormone-filled days. I sometimes miss them. And the necklace. Isn’t it funny how we end up being okay with not belonging to those we thought we did? Or something. You know what I mean. Thanks much for linking up!

    1. It caught fire with a loud bang! I had three friends in the car on the way to a Cranberries concert. We all ran out before it caught fire luckily. Get your oil changes! Apparently.
      We all three had to drive in the tow truck and it was just like Thor in “Adventures in Babysitting.”

  15. 19 was a lot of fun for me too. I had just started dating my husband a month before I turned 19. We had a lot of fun our first summer together πŸ™‚

  16. First, I love that song. It reminds me of a dear friend who has passed away. Anyway, I love how you tell your story and how 19 was the sandwich between two of your best summers!! LOVE that. 19 for me was hot and sweaty because I worked outdoors with children in the Parks program. I had a special boyfriend that year (not special needs LOL) he was my first true love. We were in year 3 and getting a little restless for the same reasons you mention—hormones. Anyway, other boys were interested too and I wasn’t sure where all this fit into my heart. Ahhhh, to be 19 again. Great finish the sentence topic!! Love your pics, Tamara. You’re so gorgeous.

    1. I’m so sorry about your friend!
      I’d love to be 19 again.. for a day. Or maybe a week. I’d never want to have to go through everything I went through again, though!
      I totally blushed at your gorgeous comment. I’ve had this ridiculous cold for awhile and feel yucky.

  17. One of my husband’s favorites….Steely Dan. 19 – I was just finishing up my first year of college, and I felt so grown up and ready for anything. Then I moved back home to spend the summer working. It was so hard to go from all the freedom to zero freedom just like that.

  18. Ahhh 19! I was away from home living my college life with a confused kind of love life. LOL. I was enjoying the company of friends more than anyone else. I can’t remember something really significant though. You have great memories of your teenage life!

    1. I really liked high school, but so many times I’m thinking that I’m so glad I’m not still in college!
      This post made me realize that even more!

  19. Oh 19 and 20- those years hurt the most for me. I may even say they were the hardest years of my life. BUT had they not happened, then I would be defined differently today- so own them as part of my messy masterpiece. I wouldn’t go back there ever to relive it. I couldn’t even write about it for this link up. BUT oh how I love your stories!!

    1. Wow, well I’m so glad they’re past for you. But it’s like you said – it makes us who we are.
      And it’s nice that we don’t have to go back.

  20. Hi Tamara, good and carefree times! How precious those year can be. As the the year 2000 rolled in I was laid on the floor, laughing my socks off watching the Only Fools and Horses Batman trilogy and worrying that I was going to give birth to my daughter who was pretty much due. Laughing so hard and being heavily pregnant is not a pleasant sensation, but it was a fun night.

    I would probably have had a similar trail of thought as you about the necklace, whilst knowing that some things are best left in the past for fear of tainting good memories.

    A lovely and romantic post.


    1. Wow, what a night!
      I totally DID send the necklace, though! I really do leave things in the past but sometimes I can’t resist. Anyway it was well received. We’re still friends today and both married and happy for what we had and what we have now.

    1. Ooh, I’d love to read it if you do! 19 is such an age. I thought it was cool that they chose that. It could have been any age, and any age would be a different post.

  21. My university had underground tunnels as well – I’m a little bummed at its sudden lack of uniqueness…

    Your 19 sounds wonderful!

  22. I want to read Pizza Dreams!!!
    The summer that I was 19 was the last summer I would be single, I’d meet the love of my life that fall, we’d see each other on my birthday, and be something more by Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚

    1. Me too! I’m sure it’s still at my parent’s house somewhere. But I’d probably be embarrassed to read it now. Sometimes I cringe at things I wrote.. last week. Eeek!!

  23. I definitely remember that song by U2!! In fact, I do believe I was 19 when I saw them in concert. Best. Ever.
    Also, is there anyone cooler than The Edge? Still?
    I was 19 the summer before I went off to university. First time away from home. First time in a dorm with almost a thousand other 18 to 21 year olds.
    I really don’t remember much to be honest. LOL
    except I know it was one of the best times of my life. in so many ways, but I am not sure if I learned the most about life IN class, or out of it.

        1. I think I played a few times, but would have someone else drink if I had to drink. Anyway, I was pretty good!
          I wonder if I could do cinnamon latte pong.

  24. Hemp necklaces! I remember when those were all the rage. I definitely had one or two myself.
    I have spent many a trip on 287 — and continue so. Driving on there is inevitable!
    19 was the year of my first love. I started dating my best friend in college the summer before, and I spent all of 19 being in love and watching my other friends from school start relationships and fall in love. And 19 included a trip to Orlando as well!

  25. Oh my god that guy! I would’ve swooned if he complimented me on a short story (heck anything) that way lol. Loved reading this Tamara πŸ™‚

  26. Wow! At 19 I had just gotten married (to my son’s father), with no kid, living in a tiny one bedroom apartment and we were so broke that we couldn’t even afford the $1.00 movie, but those were some of the best times ever!

    1. Wow, that’s awesome. I love when my mom describes those broke first years of being married and saving every penny, but being madly in lo ve!

  27. Ah 19! These were awesome summers. I was in college and feeling pretty carefree looking back! No husband, no kids and only a few bills. Life was fun at the time!

  28. I spent the summer of 19 in Key West, FL living with my sister, whose husband was in the navy and stationed down there. I worked in a hotel, and I had an evening shift. So I would sleep in, sit out and get a tan, and then go to work. Pretty darn awesome!

  29. Oh my goodness you just brought back a rush of memories. 19 – living in Oakland with one of my best friends, working and taking art history classes at UC Berkeley. The summer that I was going to be unexpected reunited with a high school crush/maybe something more but then his summer took him elsewhere. I love this and how you’ve captured the summer of 19 and summer of 20. You make me want to go back to those years!

    1. Wow, Oakland. Sigh. I’m thinking about it today because.. cold November rain is actually my least favorite. I think I’ll take nearly anything over this.

  30. It’s so bittersweet to look at our young selves and those feelings we were experiencing then which seemed so big but really probably not in the grand scheme of life? Always fun to look back at those memories!

    1. So true! It seemed SO big. Now in my 30’s, I can think of so many times I thought, “This is it!” or “This is insurmountable!”
      And now I kinda laugh at those moments.

  31. You remember so much about being 19! I turned 19 in the fall of my sophomore year, just in time to start dating Matt. A lifetime ago, but sometimes just yesterday.

  32. Love how your stories of 19 and 20 blend (and a little 21) blend. I found that too when I wrote my post. But isn’t that true of that time in life? So fluid, one thing merging into the other. Really enjoyed your vivid memories and stories!

  33. Oh goodness, hormones at 19. Lots and lots of hormones at 19. But is’t that one of the things that makes that time of life so wonderful?! I hope my girls can someday open their arms and welcome getting splashed by Shamu!

  34. Oh Yes! I wish I had written my thoughts down back then! I remember being in college and what a fun and carefree time that was and honestly, it does not seem that long ago. I love that now we can keep photos on our phone that remind us of the wonderful memories!

  35. I’m really enjoying this blog Tamara, reading all the various comments, and your responses to them. Call them hacks or hobbies but mine have been music and sports ever since l can remember. For the past several years physical therapy, fitness and nutrition have moved to front and center out of necessity. I’m trying and hoping to live a long time.

  36. This was a perfect post to link up. The memories, the music, the life. I miss those days that felt more carefree than now so much. I mean, I love the now with a kid and a different life, but wowza, I so miss those younger days too when the “best day of my life” was like yours. Thanks, friend, for reminding me of fancy dinner parties and food poisoning! :0

  37. Oh, Tamara: I just friggin love this (and you!) so much.Reading this made me fall back into some of those old memories that sometimes stay hidden but never quite forgotten. It’s like you said: they touch us, instead of the other way around. I loved reading about your summers and Kyle (what a sexy thing to say to a hormonal teen!!), Orlando and most hemp necklaces, and roommates that talk to their stuffed animals. I remember bringing some with me, but never talking to them: I had to draw the line somewhere 😊

    Loved reading this.

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