I only had one true spring break experience in college. It was my Freshman year, and my roommate and I bummed a ride to Ft. Lauderdale with a guy she knew from one of her classes. He was going with 10 or so of his closest friends from high school and they had seats in a car and an open fold-out couch. Even though they barely knew us, adding two more people meant two more people to split gas money and the cost of the lodging. It was something that was definitely out of my comfort zone. I knew no one (other than my roommate) and had certainly never been to spring break before. At that point, I was still incredibly self-conscious and hadn’t quite come out of my shell. I was terrified. On top of that, I only had about $200 to my name and had to spread it out over the whole week. But after some convincing, I found myself in the backseat of someone’s grandmother’s pale blue Ford Taurus with three complete strangers.
Our plan was to leave Indiana in the afternoon and drive all night. We made our first stop at a Steak ‘n’ Shake somewhere in Tennessee for dinner. All of us piled in and inundated some poor high school server with our orders. I remember being so terrified of blowing through my limited cash supply that I ordered the cheapest thing I could find on the menu. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that I was elated because I only spent $6. But then our orders came and someone near me had ordered the ever-pricey tuna melt. It looked so delicious and my cheap-o dinner paled in comparison. It turned into a spiral of self-hate (18-year-old me was easily triggered into a hate spiral). Why don’t I have more money? Why am I not rich like these other kinds? Why am I not better at managing my money? Why am I getting so upset over a stupid tuna melt? Why am I with these strangers? What if they hate me? Why am I so annoying?
Blah-te-blah. So on and so on. Tuna melts have a strange effect on me, apparently.
I ended up sulking through the rest of dinner and all the way into Georgia (note: I was then, and still am, a bit of drama queen). I eventually came out of my pit of self-hate, and the rest of the trip went fine. I strapped on a bathing suit and had some fun. I didn’t meet any life-long friends, but we all got along well enough and I got to be on the beach in March, which is the whole point. And my money lasted the whole time. I was so stuck in this place of self-doubt and anxiety that it could have ruined this rite-of-passage-kind-of trip. Even now, it’s sad that the dinner in that Steak ‘n’ Shake in Tennessee is the memory that is the absolute clearest to me from that trip. Out of a week on the beach with other young people, nothing else stands out above my self-doubt (and no, it wasn’t because everything is fuzzy and we were drinking, all of us were sober the entire trip actually).
Anytime I make a tuna melt, it reminds me of how far I’ve come. I’m not the girl who lets little things spiral me into a self-hate. And I’m certainly not the girl that lets self-doubt ruin great experiences (or at least I try not to). I now see the humor in the fact that I let a sandwich trigger me. I’m so different from the me of 10 years ago.
Wow, deep story for a post about a freakin’ tuna melt, eh?
Enough of that. Sandwich time! Babyface had a moment of genius last week when he decided to use hummus in place of mayo in a tuna salad. I took this idea and ran with it! I created a flavorful, crunchy, tuna salad that works perfectly on top of rye bread with a few slices of tomato and melted Swiss. I can’t wait to make this using fresh tomatoes and red peppers from my garden!