I hear you’re leaving me at the end of next semester. While it was hurtful to hear about your move from third parties, I get it—breakups are hard. Yes, I know the b-word may be a little sudden, and yes, I know you have another location in Central (though, like, why are you open 24 hours over there? Who’s visiting you in the middle of the night? Hm?), but I think it’s time for us to see other local food labs. I know we could likely do it long-distance, especially since I hear you’re getting a snazzy new truck, but I can’t stand the thought of visiting you and realizing someone else has gotten to try your Sharan sandwiches first. Sampled your eggplants. Sipped your sodas. Listen, you know how much I adore your zucchini fritters—but I can’t always be there at 3 p.m. to get to them before they sell out.
I just can’t.
This is where I can’t help but feed you—though you’ve fed me so much more, so much, much more— a cliche’d breakup phrase: It’s not you, it’s me. It was I who first trespassed between your sterile, white walls, dreamily doodling with crayons while I waited for your freshly frittered chickpeas. It was I who threw caution to the wind as a freshman, scared away from the Boom Boom sauce of Annenberg, and fell into the warmth of your pita. It was I who came morning, noon, and night for your coffee, even though I could travel to Crema and back by the time you even began to drip.
But I only wanted you.
I think, however, we can share the blame for the dissolution of our relationship a little bit: I mean, where else was a vegetarian to turn? You left me no other option. You had me at “Hello, please try this local radish” and now you’re leaving me more quickly than heirloom tomatoes at the very shiver of autumn’s first chill. Where am I supposed to go now?
Life Alive? C’mon, those snow peas dance on arugula for every vegan Tom, Dick, and Harry willing to trek to Central. Clover, you know I didn’t just pop in for your popovers. I knew that with you, I would always come away with something extra: a cup of sparkling water, a sample of rosemary fries, a smile as my credit card slid between the cold plastic crevice of your Box.
This is hard for me to say, and I can’t bear to see the drops of hibiscus tea roll down your beautiful glass facade. So please, turn away, and take your apple walnut muffins with you. I always hated those muffins. You and your stupid breakfast—sometimes so hot, sometimes so cold—was such a source of tension between us. I mean, who puts corn in a morning fruit salad? WHO?! You did, in the tender, unknowing company of peaches and nectarines. They didn’t know any better. You, possessor of the $3 egg and tomato sandwich, the thought of which kept me up at night, the very temptation of which caused me to arise in the morning.
I came even when you “rounded up” the prices to “help with” the tax. $4 is a fair price for happiness, I thought. I fell for it. I knew you had a handy little app to help with whatever strange decimals came after the 3. No one uses cash these days anyway!
And yet: I fell for it.
I fell for you. And occasionally on your floors, after a mopping.
But now, it’s time to get up. Scrape whatever is left of me, my wallet, and my dignity off of your beautiful blond wood seats. I mean, horrible blond wood seats! And stupid, artisanal tree-trunk table. I mean, where do you even buy something like that? The tree store?
Ugh. I’ll have to go to Darwin’s from now on. At least they have wine. And egg sandwiches until 3 p.m. on the weekends! I mean, how can you ALWAYS expect me to get up before 11 a.m.? Seriously? You were always so needy, Clover. I’m glad you’re moving away. Take your stupid syrupy sodas with you, your egg and eggplant, your meager mezze. Yes, I KNOW what a popover is; don’t explain it to me again. You see me here EVERY DAY. And after all this time: not one discount.
I think it’s time I go, Clover. I really expected some more maturity from you. I mean, you got bought out by the SMITH Center? Really? That’s not even a real name. That’s like a name someone wrote down as a stand in until they thought of a better name. And they still haven’t.
So go. Go forth with your beer tastings, pack up those awkward curbside tables set up on a sidewalk too narrow to begin with, abscond with your cutesy paper packaging that never actually kept food safe from spillage.
Leave, with your chickpea fritters that are called falafel EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. EV-ER-Y-WHERE. Literally. Check out that place around the corner. It’s called FALAFEL CORNER. I’ll never again taste those crunchy, crispy, fritters, the likes of which drew me to Holyoke Street during the worst of storms, which I always wish I had ordered if I dared to try the new turnips instead... No! No. Your locally grown wiles will work on me no more. Elope with Yogurtland! Skip town with B. Good! Enjoy your time with Al’s—I always knew that lunch special was too good to be true. And, really, Oggi’s? Otto’s is only a few blocks away. Have some self-respect.
By the way, I’m keeping the cat.
And by that I mean: Yo, Gato, ever thought about serving sandwiches? I’ve got some Rojo cash with your name on it.