Tacos and the Charles, A Love Story

It’s really no secret that I love Taco Bell more than I love most things. Nothing has cured my hangry, heartbroken soul quicker and better than the fake cheese and faker meat of Americanized Mexican Food.

You can imagine my distress when I moved across the country, and soon found myself without many opportunities to indulge in said delicacies.

I know what you’re thinking. And yes, it is a tragedy.

My Taco Bell fast had less to do with choice and more to do with lack of accessible locations. Don’t get me wrong, I love that place something fierce, but the nearest location to me is tucked inside the folds of Boston’s city center. And though I love this city, I don’t normally drive through downtown Boston if I can help it. (If you’ve ever driven anywhere on the East Coast, you’ll understand what I mean; the winding streets are enough to induce a panic attack.)

I love tacos as much as the next person, but I’m only human. I have my limits.

One cold wintry day about four months after my move, however, the clouds metaphorically parted in my taco-less skies. The prospect of burrito-shaped snowflakes soon floated across my horizon.

After an anxiety-ridden first shift where I imagine I looked exactly the way one does at a new job, I was informed I wouldn’t be needed for the second of two shifts I was scheduled to work that day. I had been parked about two blocks away from the location of where my second would have been when I was given this news, and soon found myself holding blissful free time on my hands. (Aside from holding various items I can consume, unoccupied time is my next favorite thing to have anywhere near my hands.)

It was dark, with a windchill that could have converted a hot tub into a small glacier, but I told myself it was a good idea to walk a stretch of the harbor walk next to the Charles. I was absolutely right.

The subsequent view took my breath away, and took all of the day’s residual anxiety right along with it. (In fact, I snapped the photo that’s featured in another of my posts, here.)

Like many other favorite moments in my life, a peaceful calm washed over me, and I allowed myself to stand there and just be silent. I don’t remember for sure, but I can’t have spent more than five minutes on that vacant sliver of the Boston Harbor. The bitter air eventually pushed me back to my car, my steps slightly lighter than when I’d arrived.

As full as my mind was with anxiety, my stomach was as empty of food. So when I made it back to my car, I set off on a quest for something to abate my growing hunger. A quick search on my phone notified a Taco Bell less than ten minutes away. Free time and tacos? Could life get any better?

As it turns out, life could get better, but unfortunately it was not because of Taco Bell.

After a few confusion-filled laps around the building, I discovered this Taco Bell to be the epicenter of a shopping mall, and I had neither the wits nor the desire to travel to it’s chaotic core. If this was Hogwarts and I, Harry Potter, Ginny would have most definitely been left to die in the Chamber of Secrets.

I just didn’t have it in me. Parking was undoubtedly a small fortune, and the number of patrons for a Saturday night seemed to be at an all-time high. My utter physical and mental exhaustion won out against my love for tacos, and I admit this with no small amount of shame.

(To those who want me to have a happy ending with the aforementioned pseudo-Mexican food, don’t feel too bad, for the saga continues. I eventually held my burrito lover in my hands while walking the streets of New York City, only two short months later. Good things come to those who wait, especially for those who wait for love. Or is it food? Honestly, I get those two confused.)

That night, however, the universe seemed to be willing to dole out just a bit more love into my outstretched hands. My navigation app took me through the city on my drive home, instead of my usual commute via the Mass Pike. I drove past a number of beautiful bridges and buildings, windows down (that’s right, windchill be damned I say!) and music blaring. I made my way home, positioned parallel to the Charles River, and that peaceful feeling returned.

It was the first time since I chose this city as my home that I felt it choose me back.

My heart was warm, full, and maybe even a little fuzzy. My mind was clear of previous worry, self-doubt, and fear. I felt myself release several breaths of relief, and what filled my lungs each time I breathed back in was something that was simple and perfect and lovely.

I think some people might call it joy.

For curious and inquiring minds, I ended up stopping at McDonald’s. Desperate times call for desperate measures… But you better believe I enjoyed every last bite of that McFlurry.

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