Timeline: Nineteen

(This follows on from Seventeen and Eighteen, and before that, Sixteen, and before that, Fourteen & Fifteen, and before that, Twelve & Thirteen, and before that, Eleven, and before that, Seven Through Ten, and before that, Zero Through Six.)

1999, aged nineteen: Nineteen is my favorite year, my magical age, that one long glorious stretch of perfection. I am taking a break between the end of school and the beginning of university, and I have chosen to live at home in Connecticut for the year. This is funny to my friends, who are all gallivanting around Europe and building houses in Africa, but to me, the novelty of living at home with my family is actually the weirdest, most exotic thing of all.

Living out some long-held fantasy to attend an American high school, I sign up for a few classes at the local community college, and even though I am the only person doing them for fun and not credit, I manage to fall in with a crowd of like-minded people with whom I attend poetry readings and art shows and parties in smoky bedrooms with illegal booze. We meet in diners at midnight and drink cup after cup of coffee and all cultivate crushes on each other to which we don't admit.

Once a week, I take the train into New York City, where I intern for a glossy bridal magazine, and no-one quite knows what to do with me, so they send me to the Beauty Closet and tell me to take whatever I like. I call my mother from my cubicle and ask her whether she prefers Chanel or Dior when it comes to lipstick, and for the whole year, I never have to buy shampoo.

One lunchtime, I get so sick of organizing perfumes and braying over bouquets that I leave the office and walk to a seedy part of the Village, where I find a body piercing parlor and pay a tattooed meathead eighty dollars to punch two holes at the top of my ear and push a metal bar between them.  He apologizes for being stoned and my stomach lurches as I wonder what I'm getting myself into, and two days later, the bar rips out while I'm brushing my hair, so I go back the next week and he pierces it again.

When my parents let me have the car, I drive to upstate New York to visit Sean, and sometimes we're off and sometimes we're on, and often it's exhausting not knowing, but sometimes it's just better not to know. One evening I meet a boy in Starbucks who asks if I want to work at the Woodstock festival and I say yes, because I'm nineteen and it's summer and a few weekends later, I'm sleeping in a tent and selling ice creams to drunk people in the middle of the night, and all I eat for three and a half days straight is Chipwiches, because they're free.

Jun 27, 2008

Once again Holly, fantastic piece! I've always loved the idea of a gap year. I think it's something I probably should've done. I might have had an easier time when I went to college. Nineteen does seem like it was a near perfect year for you. I can't imagine having free, unrestrained access to a fancy magazine beauty closet!

p.s. What ever ended up happening with your brother Tom's visa issue? My husband and I are dealing with our own visa stuff and I was curious to see how your brother's turned out.

Jun 27, 2008

Ha, my husband was at Woodstock and drunk, maybe you sold him ice cream in the middle of the night!

Jun 27, 2008

Was he the naked guy that came and sat on my ice cream stand with his NAKED SELF? I hope not. I also hope, for his sake, that he didn't buy ice cream from me AFTER the naked guy had sat on my ice cream stand with his naked self.

Jun 27, 2008

Nineteen was my favorite year, too.

Anne & May
Jun 27, 2008

Ha! You pluralized ice cream. That's so British!

Lovely piece, as always. I never really appreciated being young like you did. I think I was always planning ahead for the next thing.

I know. I'm only 30. But 19 is gone forever.

Jun 27, 2008

I asked him if his NAKED SELF bought ice cream and he said it wasn't him. Too bad, I would have laughed about it until the day I die.

Jun 27, 2008

Fantastic. These are my favorite pieces.

Jun 27, 2008

My ex-husband was naked at the original Woodstock. He drove up there in a VW van, too. (Not naked, I hope.) Also, mmm, Chipwiches.

Sounds like an awesome year. I did the opposite of a gap year; I skipped my senior year of high school and went away to college at 16. Yours sounds much more fun.

Jun 27, 2008

These days we'd ask for references and certificates stating Superior Hole Punching skills before letting someone anywhere near our head with an earring gun. When you're 19 you don't care if they're stoned or criminal, as long as it's cheap. Ah, youth. I miss you.

Jun 27, 2008

Lovely lovely post Holly!
I fully understand the fantasy of attending an american high school - I had a similar one about british boarding school, but thanks to my parents, I got to live the dream for a term. And 19 was such a formidable inbetween age and also one were you take yourself so so seriously - at least I did!

Jun 27, 2008

Wow, 19 was awesome.

Jun 27, 2008

OH, I love these timeline stories. I wish I could remember back in such wonderful detail.
I also love Luke's song! Can I download it from somewhere, and are there more? Please tell me he has more just like it! His voice is awesome!

Jun 27, 2008

and you took our remote control with you and found it in your sleeping bag and mummy got mad because we were always losing the remote control, but little did we know, it was actually having a wild time at Woodstock!

Nothing But Bonfires
Jun 27, 2008
Jun 28, 2008

Oh, the intern days. On my first day as an intern the boss left early, left me all alone in the office and told me to just find my way out once I had finished. Not quite what I had expected. It did get a little better, but not much.

Jun 29, 2008

Your post makes me wish I were nineteen again.

Jun 29, 2008

...like every comment before me, I think nineteen was also my best year. (And I also lived off chipwiches the summer I was 19! Except they weren't free, and it was less glamorous.) Yours seems infinitely more productive. I was just going to post my favorite part but your sister's comment has swiftly taken that position.

Jun 29, 2008

I went back to read Seventeen & Eighteen and all of the others. I love them all.

Jun 30, 2008

Ahhh, the chipwich diet! I think we've ALL been on that at some point... though not necessarily at the Woodstock Festival. Great writing, as always, Holly!
House of Jules

Jun 30, 2008

Wow, I always wondered why you look so familiar in your pictures, but you definitely sold me ice cream at Woodstock in '99. No seriously, you did, and do you know how I'm going to make you believe it? Did you also (or the people you were vending with) sell bags of Ice for like 5 or 6 dollars? Because I distinctly remember buying icecream from a young British girl, and I saw her hand over a bag of ice and I was all like "Wow, you guys are selling ice? How much? and she(you) told me and I had to run all the way back to my tent to get the money, but you guys were set up on the outskirts of the main camping area, so it wasn't that far. Which is to say you weren't set up by the stages, which were almost a mile from the camping area. (Across blacktop. Which after 3 days in 90 plus degrees, was so hot it fried my feet through my flipflops, they were all blistered, and then my sore blistered feet got stepped all over during the crazy set of Limp Bizkit where the poor girl got raped in the mosh pit, ahhh good times to be had by all).

So, Holly, do you remember me? It certainly WAS a long time ago, but your face always struck me as one I'd seen before. (Oh, I also lived in CT until 1996, in Trumbull)

Operation Pink Herring
Jul 01, 2008

Man, your nineteen was so much cooler than mine. Then again, my ninteen was filled with binge drinking and anorexia, so just about anyone's nineteen was better than mine. Except maybe Lauren Conrad's.