It was my third year in college and I had just experienced the most painful, hurtful breakup of my young life. I had been dating a girl for just under a year when I learned from her roommate that she had been cheating on me for almost the entire time we had been together. I had my suspicions, of course, but never any proof, not really, at least not proof I was willing to examine with any kind of depth. My heart has always been a fragile thing.

Her roommate told me the last straw for her was when I had dropped by with some banh mi from the Lee's Sandwiches next to campus. It was an unplanned visit, and my girlfriend had the guy she was cheating on me with hide under the bed in her room while she took the sandwiches from me and then made an excuse as to why I needed to leave.

The next day her roommate came to my place and told me what had happened. I called my girlfriend and broke up with her, and then went for one of those aimless walks reserved for those in deep pain. It was a cool night in Orange County - cool for those of us native born down there, which is like 60 Fahrenheit - but I was so out of it I didn't bring a jacket. I wandered down past the University Center, down Campus Drive, down to the tiny shopping center that had the liquor store that never carded anyone and a sketchy "Asian" restaurant called Oriental Kitchen that had an angry Korean man in it that would scream "SAUCE? SAUCE?" when you'd ask for...sauce.

In that plaza was a Del Taco, probably my favorite bad fast food chain and one that the Bay Area is bereft of, to my great sadness. I walked into the Del Taco, not really hungry, but sad - and I eat when I'm sad. I ordered three spicy jack chicken quesadillas, my favorite item, and Del Scorcho sauce, the best fast food hot sauce in my opinion. I ate my quesadillas alone, in that empty Del Taco, nothing but muzak and the workers there to keep me company as I cried and chewed.


I've been making a quesadilla almost every morning since California's shelter-in-place began. I have taken to grabbing large bags of tortillas and usually Monterey Jack for this endeavor. I do not know if I am actively recalling one of my deepest heartaches each morning as I stare at the tortilla beginning to bubble, as I lazily dump however much cheese onto the middle, as I fold it and flip it a few times, as I watch some cheese ooze out the side. Routine feels good right now for me, much as how a good cry does when you're sad.

This was going to be a stretch where I'd break out and try new recipes, and maybe I have done that once or twice, but in general I just want a plain quesadilla every morning, no matter the weather, no matter what I should or should not be doing that day. As an extrovert, I think I am mourning the loss of regular human contact, of hugging friends, of seeing someone smile and wave as I walk past them. I'm lucky I live close enough to parks that I see people, still - while I'm walking my dog, while we're keeping distance. You get through each day well enough, I guess, when you can focus on making virtual lessons for students and then walk the dog and then plant some peach trees in Animal Crossing and then watch something on Netflix and go to bed and wake up and do that again the next day.

But each morning when I wake up, I make my coffee and then I sit there, for those seven or so minutes, making the same quesadilla I made yesterday, tasting the same crunch and then feeling the soft, salty chew of the cheese.

In that vague future when this is all over, I probably will not want a quesadilla anymore. But for now, all I can do is cook them, fold them, eat them, sigh, and wait.


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