My dearest Bruff,
This is not our first correspondence, and it’s unlikely to be our last. I won’t pull a full “Notebook” and say “I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you every day for a year” or even, “If you’re a Bruff, I’m a Bruff,” but I definitely wrote you at least once or twice to talk about your omelettes. This letter, however, takes a different tone — no longer a lovers’ quarrel, but something like the emotional equivalent of a midnight “wyd” text.
Our relationship was fiery but short-lived. Our highs — when I would ask for two grilled cheeses and you would give them to me without hesitation, making breakfast burritos in the prime time after the wrap line opens and before the breakfast line closes, the charming gelatiny of your mac and cheese — were high. But our lows were just as intense — when the lines for Cheese Day spilled out across McAlister, the cereal machines had three different types of granola but we went weeks without a sighting of Cocoa Puffs or Frosted Mini Wheats, when you got too experimental with pizza toppings.
Caught in the ups and downs of our meal plan-mandated relationship, it was hard for me to see just how good I had it. You were always so thoughtful, so accommodating, pulling out all the stops when Destination Tulane kids swarmed you. At the time, I was mad because there didn’t seem to be enough room for me in your life — or in your limited seating options, which quickly filled with prospective students. I was blind to the snazzy jazz band posted up in the corner, the bananas foster and beignets that you kept in steady supply. But I see now what I once was unable to, that you were the only constant in my first two years at Tulane, and I didn’t properly appreciate that while I had it.
Freshman year, I felt smothered. I wanted to keep my options open, maybe enjoy a Le Gourmet sandwich or LBC Sushi roll every once in a while to keep from feeling too committed. “Are humans really meant to love just one dining option?” I wondered. I was conflicted. But while Panda Express was fun and PJ’s was convenient, none of them offered me the same versatility as you. So I gave in, accepting that we had a truly limitless number of swipes to spend together, so I may as well enjoy it. My friends loved you, and you never had any qualms about them tagging along. In retrospect, I realize I never spent any time alone with you; the thought of a solo-Bruff was too anxiety-inducing. Maybe if I had gotten to know you better then we could’ve made it last.
But sophomore year I began to withdraw. I needed boundaries, some time to myself, a little more excitement in my dining options. My whole college experience had been so wrapped up in you, I didn’t want to sacrifice my high standards for food quality just because you were convenient. So I started exploring my options, utilizing my quick picks and spending just a little too much time at Panera for your – and my Wavebuck balance’s – liking. Soon, hanging out with you felt like a pressing obligation I could no longer entertain, so I avoided you. We would see each other casually around campus, I would eat a double-chocolate cookie and it would feel almost like old times again.
But then I left without warning, trading your ambiguous sauces and heat lamps for fine dining and French cuisine. I lived freely abroad, without a meal plan to tie me down. In this freedom, however, I found that I missed the consistency that you brought as a dining hall, even if I did not miss the consistency of your food.
Returning to campus this semester has affirmed what I have long feared: that I made a mistake in ending things with you. I acted rashly, I was unappreciative and I’m sorry. I watch my underclassmen friends hanging out with you in what used to be our “spot,” the wobbly high tables in the Irby/McAlister corner, and I feel a pang of jealousy. As I scramble to find the time to make lunch, I reflect on the leisurely convenience of a Bruff-To-Go salad in between classes. I guess my point is … something I really never, ever thought I’d say … I miss you, Bruff.
It’s a Bruff Life