Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Much to Chew, So Little Time

I've been teetering back and forth about the focus of my first ever blog post. I can't say that I've gotten it figured out yet even now as I type...but at least I've actually logged on (I've been doing it in my head up to this point) and started down the path of putting myself out there in the public domain.

So, just now, I've decided to keep it simple and begin at the beginning. I'll walk you back to the Fall of 1993. The city is Atlanta, GA. It's about September-October-ish, and I've gotten my feet firmly planted in the soil upon which Spelman College now stands. It's about noon and, as I did every day about this time, I make my way up to the second floor of the student center (upper Manley for those who can feel me) to the familiar smells of Alma Upshaw dining hall. I pull out my ID for a quick yes-I-paid-my-room-and-board-to-eat-here swipe in exchange for my red meal ticket. That's when the hope before the hunt begins.

I wonder what they're serving today? Maybe it'll remind me of what Mama cooked at home. Maybe it'll expand my horizons - as attending a liberal arts college was supposed to do - and introduce me to a new type of fare. What do I have a taste for? What have the chefs chosen to represent the finest of what Aramark has to offer? Let's ask the lady back here with the serving gear. Um, what did you say that was? Chicken a-la-three-days-in-a-row? Really? *sigh* First the salads...then the grill line...cereal, maybe?...and then I see it. Just where it needed it to be. I sidle up to the main food line, place my tray on the rail in front of me, smile, and ask for the steamy fluffy white goodness in the rectangular tray in front of me. "May I have some rice, please?" That was all it took. A couple of generous scoops of single grains that only Uncle Ben could have perfected. Yes. Now, we can have lunch. Now, we have choices. Now, that hamburger patty over there in the grill line looks like a great choice of meat and the green beans in the main line would make a worthy side. I'm back on track and can use the money my parents are paying for me to eat here once again. Crisis averted. I live to eat another day.

Putting my meal over rice just made life for me a little better to swallow. You have to adjust to quite a bit as a first-year college student. I preferred taking baths to showers almost exclusively until I moved into the dorm and saw that bathtub...and there was no way. I went from living with a brother to living with two young women (my dorm room was a triple) and we all kept different and night. I don't like food noises and one of them smacked as if it were an olympic event. I wanted the light off when I slept but another didn't start studying until 10pm. It was a good week if you went down to the dorm kitchen and didn't smell your food cooking by somebody just as broke and hungry as you were.

I just needed something that wasn't going to disappoint me. To help me keep things in perspective, you know? To remind me that everything was going to be ok. And it was as long as somebody remembered to boil some water, add a little salt and butter, and wait for the cup of rice to rise to the occasion.

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