Friday, October 2, 2009

And We're Back: Good Friends and 24 Hour Taco

The great thing about adulthood is making great friends who inspire you (particularly in times of woe) to pull yourself up from your bootstraps and keep on livin'.

As is the case with my dear friend Morgan and this very blog. "Let's resurrect your blog!" she wrote to me in an email yesterday. Attached to the email was this guest blog post, and a bunch of pictures. Now that is a friend.

So, this morning, for the first time in many days, I logged in to my blog and I felt happy. I did not feel too overwhelmed by my recent heaviness of adulthood, even though nothing had really changed -- my grandma was still sick, my life was still stressful, my family's grocery store had still gone under. But now, finally, I had someone who offered to carry a bit of a load that is very important to me (my blog!) And now, finally, I accepted the help.

A few words of introduction to Morgan's fabulous post...

One thing that I love about Morgan's entry is that it forces the reader to really work to contextualize place and time. Her descriptions of a local taco stand (we in Southern California know there is one on every corner, a favorite in every neighborhood) and the vast Texas landscape are incredibly rich.

Morgan's fiance, Brant, is in the Navy and is currently deployed (as we will find out from her post). For Morgan, half a world away, the comfort of Brant's company (and the memory of one of their happiest times) is recalled again and again with a visit to her local taco shop. There is a kind of quiet tone to this entry, and all the details count to expertly lay out a real feeling of love, happiness, longing, and comfort.

24 Hour Taco
By Morgan Leahy

At 5:58 am, my alarm clock radio whines on and I get an earful of traffic, and an update on the border waits at Calexico and San Ysidro. I wrestle with the sheets and get out of bed to another perfect morning in San Diego.

I spend the day at work, quietly typing at my computer and performing many and varied administrative tasks of great and small importance. At 11:00 I can’t contain a grin as my cell phone starts to vibrate. I carry it out to the parking lot where I talk privately for the fastest half hour of my day. I hear about Brant’s day in Kuwait, how hot it is, how well his dive went, what he had for dinner. Normal things make the distance between us feel less apparent. I hear about a funny practical joke involving a Red Sox fan and a Yankees license plate holder. I tell him how I had trouble sleeping, and I return to the office to finish my day.

After work, I have to feed a friend’s fish. It is as uneventful as you would think and I lock up her house and start to walk home just before dark. The sun sinks slowly into the Pacific behind me, and I walk up the hill towards home.

I cross three blocks and see Roberto's 24 hour Taco Shop across the street, my favorite guilty pleasure since moving here a year ago. It's too bad I won't be able to tell Brant about this. When he left for his deployment four months ago, he made me promise that I would not, under any circumstance, tell him about any stop at Roberto’s. Before the road West, I hadn’t known the least thing about Mexican food. I guess it really started a little north of the Rio Grande.

"Thank you," the man at the convenience store had said when we finished paying for our assorted snacks and walked out into the hot Texas sun on the third afternoon of our drive, in May of last year. We climbed into the car. Somehow he had convinced me to drive, and we sped off fast enough to get pulled over right away, but not fast enough to get a ticket. I cried. He took the wheel. And we tried again.

We drove out of a Texas afternoon, through a Texas evening, and into a Texas night. I said I could see for miles and I thought I was the first person to ever feel that way. We had the only car on the road, and gas stations, not to mention any traces of communities, spread further and further apart. We held hands in the car and stayed about as quiet as we had been the whole trip. We had no plans or expectations of where we would sleep that night, or how far we would drive.

"Gracias," The cashier at Roberto's said to me as I gave him a handful of coins, "Hot Sauce?"

"Si, roja por favor."

"Tienes un novio?"

"Si. You ask me every time"

"Do you like him?"

"Yes. Still do."

I grab the sweating plastic to-go bag with my heavy burrito inside and turn again towards home. It's almost dark.

Somewhere in the West Texas desert, we had turned at an exit that had signs for food and gas when it started to feel like we were playing chicken with the gas gauge. Driving up to a stop sign at the first intersection, we looked around and saw nothing, only the hills covered with a darkness so soft I wanted to wrap it around me. Ahead, a gas station sat on a small hill. It was the only light for miles.

We pulled into the parking lot, filled the tank, and walked inside the convenience store. An older man stood behind the main cash register and a young girl stood behind another counter that had hot food for sale. It was late, maybe 3am, so there wasn't much food left and I didn't recognize anything in the case. This was perhaps the third time I had eaten Mexican food before then, so I pointed to what turned out to be a chili relleno and hoped I would like it.

Stretching out on the grass near the curb with our dinner, I laughed as I looked at Brant. We had been on the road for three days, and the scenery, the food, and the company filled me with excitement. I felt like we were just starting out, and we were.

I arrive at my gate just as the last bit of sun is dipping below the Ocean. I take a seat on the front porch and eat part of the burrito, still reminiscing about our cross county drive. Then I step inside to email Brant.


And, for all those who have been asking, I will still put up the entry from Meghan's wedding, as I teased you with about a month ago.

In the mean time, please show our first Guest Blogger some love! What did you take from her entry? What was striking? Do you have a favorite food that transports you somewhere great? For me, it's hot jamon y queso sandwiches (con huevos). When I studied abroad in Madrid (on a budget so we had to stick with cheap, simple food), my dear roommate would make us these sandwiches for dinner at least 3 times a week. At the time, in our little apartment off of the purple metro line, nothing ever tasted so good...

Thanks Morgan!

We can't wait to hear more from you!


  1. hot jamon y queso sandwiches (con huevos)! - YES, my favorite too. Kind of makes me want to go on a road trip.

  2. :) Thanks for including me. Viva!