It’s 9:00 in the morning and I’ve melted into my favorite armchair (gray, pleather, extra squishy) in the English student lounge. In true super senior fashion, I’m only just finishing my reading for my afternoon class, Anne Fadiman’s familiar essay on ice cream. Since breakfast so far has only consisted of a coffee I grabbed from my K-cup machine as on my way out the door to catch the 22 on time, of course I’m hungry. But what could possibly make me rise from the womblike caress of my armchair? Oh, right: La Victoria is right across the street.
As I rise from my armchair, I start thinking about rituals. Last year, the early morning text of “Breakfast burrito?” from David would bring a smile to my face. I didn’t have class until 10:30 or noon, but I usually made it on campus long before, because breakfast burritos are 3.25 before 11 am and we always got our fix together. Chorizo and egg with a Mexican Coke for me, bacon and egg with a Squirt for him.
Alas, time passes, change is inevitable, and my partner in crime and burritos has graduated. I climb up the steps of the Victorian house of burritos and orange sauce alone.
My order has changed, too. No more Coke with real cane sugar (I’m pretty sure I can taste the difference, but that smoother sweetness might just as easily be placebo effect induced.) “Cheese?” the woman at the register asks. She flinches when I say, “No, thank you,” for the first time. The soda and the cheese have been sacrificed on the altar of my attempt to be healthier this school year.
There’s no line, so it’s not long before I’m peeling away the layer of crinkly aluminum to reveal the warm bundle of breakfast. The first bite is more tortilla than anything else, but I like the chewy doughiness of it. Rice and chorizo are revealed within, but I take a moment to anoint my breakfast with a few drops of orange sauce. Things could easily go wrong here. Too much, and my nose will run and my eyes will tear up because I have stereotypically white girl spiciness tolerance (ie: none). Too little, and what’s the point? However, because this is a routine, I’ve figured out my ideal dose. Four drops per bite is enough.
Without cheese melting into the rice and chorizo to bind it all together, the chorizo has migrated to the bottom and all I’m getting is rice. Frustrated, I add more orange sauce, and the waterworks begin. If David were here, he would have told me to compromise: leave the Coke but get the cheese. He would have been right, too.
I’ve used up my napkins wiping my nose, and so there’s nothing left to clean up my hands as the grease from the accumulated chorizo begins to ooze past the layers of tortilla and foil and onto my hands. I think about getting up to get more napkins, but I am still hungry so I shove the grease soaked nub of tortilla at the bottom into my mouth.
The savagery of the gesture is soon contrasted to how gingerly I hold my hands away from me. The white shirt I put on this morning, the one so thin and delicate that I almost put a camisole under it because I wasn’t 100% sure I couldn’t see my bra through it, is one wrong move away from being a canvas for bright orange chorizo fat.
I nearly avoided disaster, but a greasy napkin falls out of my hand. I start to calculate the time it would take me to get home, change, and get back to class. There’s time. Probably. I can risk it.
None of this would have happened if David were here, though.