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

There’s Still Time for a Summer of Love

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is: It was the summer of...

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that summer’s magic is real – enticing, reaching, and drawing you in its embrace.

Sometimes, I’m the type to sit and wait for something amazing to happen. You see, I’m a lucky person and I’m able to skate by on luck and charm and brief powers of inspiration. It doesn’t last, though. It wears out – like a light – and then I’m left shivering in the dark. Every time I step out into the light, I believe I surround myself with more warmth and stamina – enough to keep me surrounded when the light goes again. My light. Summer’s light. It all comes and goes – and I’d like to believe we’re all building our own light boxes and filling them with objects and subjects. Luck and time run out so fast..

..but summer is magic, and maybe, so am I.

If I measured out my life moments, both good and bad in terms of seasons, some of the biggest moments would fall into the summer category – the sudden death of my father, meeting my husband at JFK Airport, and the birth of my firstborn, Scarlet. The summer of 2018 is supposed to be a magical summer like many magical summers. The thing is, it’s not going to happen if I sit back and wait for it. It’s spurts and bursts of inspiration, to eventually settle into a hopefully long-lasting momentum. That starts with me. I have to take that first step and reach my hand up and out to be pulled into the light.

  • This is the summer I was supposed to have that buff bikini body. Now I know I’m naturally slim, but that doesn’t mean that tone is my friend. You know what is my friend? Ice cream and mashed potatoes. So the buff summer body may never happen, unless I really want it to, but it’s all good because I have a body and it’s summer. Voila – summer body! And this body is strong and proportionate and gives me way little in the ways of aches and pains, and in the grand scheme of things I know that one day I’ll look back on photos of my 30-something body and have to adjust my glasses. I’ll say to myself:

“What a hot body you once had!” Now pass the mashed potatoes and cake.

  • This is the summer my Twitter account was hacked, and in all of that panic and rebuilding, I learned how awesome it is to be 100% me and to have real followers who like my late night ice cream eating/Hallmark movie watching tweets.

  • This is the summer I was supposed to get a zillion page views, but it’s summer, and not everyone wants to read my dribble. So this is the summer I realized it’s all ok. If you build it, they will come. So build it strong, and they will stay.

  • This is the summer I was supposed to believe in myself, but I’ve learned that maybe we all are just halfway portraits of self-belief. Other people have no trouble telling you what they can do. Well this is the summer I’ve learned to tell you what I can do. I can take photos of your child and rebuild smashed Twitter accounts and write with my heart and make fun and quirky recipes and rebuild from smashed lenses and smashed hearts. There are many things I can do, to do for you!

  • This is the summer I was supposed to get the guts to rent a cabin alone or not alone in the middle of nowhere, Maine with waist-high wading boots and a rented or bought zoom lens. It hasn’t happened and still could, but instead I’ll count the victories that are either booked or done. Cape Cod. Photographing my dad’s 50th reunion. Starting the process of renewing my passport. Renewing my driver’s license without swearing in the RMV. Booking a wedding, and many portraits.

Magical baby steps.

  • This is the summer I was supposed to find work/life balance, but instead I worried too much about Twitter accounts and page views and slept through so many cuddle opportunities with the kids and the dog. Yet, the kids were happy. Our jobs have allowed us to send them to some pretty awesome camps. They are memorable, loved and engaging. Sometimes it feels like all I do is work and hide, rinse, repeat, but every foray into the world is only broadening my own little world.

It’s not failures or missed opportunities. Not yet, oh no. It’s missed steps and dissed steps and ebbs and flows and victories and setbacks. It’s missteps and mistrusts and rebuilds and re-trusts, all leading to the same place – where I want to be.

Where I want to be.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is: It was the summer of...

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “It was the summer of…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.

There’s still time for a summer of love.