04 March 2011

Majored in Grub, Minored in Walking

I earned my associate of arts degree at Jefferson Community College in the late 90s.  I loved college, because I didn't have to schedule morning classes.  The earliest class I took started around 11 in the morning.  I went until 8-9 at night, of course, but that didn't faze me.  Like every other student I had to figure out some kind of plan for grub.  There was a Subway in one building.  The campus was surrounded by McDonald's, Rally's, Taco Bell and a pub called Michael Murphy's.  I rotated between them, like everyone else.

One day in the spring 2000 semester, Coyote's Music and Dance Hall held several free concerts.  Being a few blocks away, I volunteered to hoof it on over between classes (I wasn't about to drive and risk losing my parking space!) to pick up tickets for my friends and myself.  That's when I had the epiphany that I was perfectly capable of strolling from campus to the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch.

It was perfect.  For about $10 (including tip) I could have a pleasant walk downtown both coming and going, and a quiet lunch by myself in a place with great ambiance.  This was before Crohn's took my guts hostage, of course.  I ate the whole loaf of bread, the salad and the pasta singlehandedly.  Early on I ate the spaghetti but soon I began trying their pasta with browned butter and mizithra cheese.  At first I preferred to get half of the pasta with marinara and the other half with the browned butter and mizithra, but eventually I stopped bothering with the marinara.  It was a lot like my graduation to dry reds when I began drinking wine.  The dryness takes some getting used to, but once you acclimate it's hard to enjoy anything less.
Browned Butter & Mizithra Cheese
A toothsome treat for cheese lovers.
Legend has it that Homer lived on it while composing The Iliad.
I didn't eat at the Spaghetti Factory every day I was on campus, of course.  Sometimes weather wasn't cooperative and I didn't care to walk in the rain or cold that far.  Sometimes I just didn't have the money on a given day.  I did go often enough to really enjoy myself.  I remember many an afternoon, sitting at a table by myself, perusing my notes for a test later in the day.  It wasn't as important as the well dressed executives poring over business papers, but I'm pretty sure I was the only student there most afternoons and I was mildly curious what the other patrons may have thought I was there doing.  I like to think they thought I was a writer of some kind, but I'm sure they paid me no heed at all, except those waiting likely wondered when I would be vacating the table.

Maybe you've had your college years already.  I'd be curious to hear whatever stories you have along these lines.  If you haven't gone to college yet--or maybe you're currently enrolled--I hope you take something out of this anecdote of mine.  Go explore some day.  Don't limit yourself to what the other students are doing.  There may be a much finer experience for you within walking distance of the fast food trap that ensnares your classmates.