An Ode to Heubeck Dining Hall

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In your 9:20 am class, someone says, “I really want a Heubeck burrito.” You roll your eyes—how could someone want Heubeck burritos that badly? Watery sour cream, variable ingredients dependent on the day, cracking flour tortillas. Also, it’s 9 in the morning. You barely had time to drag yourself out of bed; you didn’t even have time to stop at Pick 3 for a Tupperware of rubbery scrambled eggs. But then you think about it harder, and, gosh, you really want a Heubeck burrito, more than you can ever remember wanting a food. It becomes a tangible thing, like if you don’t get a bite of cold shredded cheese in the next day, you might actually die.

The Heubeck dining hall had been another terrible loss, another soldier to lose its life in the battle against Mary Fisher. Unlike Stimson, Heubeck had no toxic smells or no suspicious stains. You knew Heubeck was bound to be lost after the death of Passport Cafe, a name that’s dug into your memories and now sits somewhere primal and distant, carved into a gravestone that purely exists in the collective past of Goucher students.

Heubeck had been a museum, a preservation of all the things you had loved throughout your years here. Fall of your freshman year, you stopped in Heubeck every day to pick up a bag of jalapeño Cheetos. The next spring, it had been the blue Naked juices they had, even if they were a ridiculous hit to your Flex count. Then your roommate introduced you to Heubeck’s mixed milkshakes, and that was your obsession for another few months. Each semester, a new fad, a new must-have. It didn’t matter—Heubeck had it all, Heubeck had everything you could imagine. Somewhere in between the glass sliding doors of the fridges and the confusing lines that ran out into the hallway, there was a subtle, hidden magic. Heubeck recognized you. Heubeck knew what you wanted. Heubeck made sure it would be there for you. Yes, it was tiny, and, yes, it was chaotic. But it did everything it could to make itself into a home for you. A mother who invited you into her own warm womb.

Are they still there, you wonder, the fridges and the registers and the black cloth retractable belts in the middle of the floor, barely attempting to hold everyone in line? Are they lonely? Do they stare out the windows into the hallway, watching you as you pass? Maybe they sneak into the Multipurpose Room, play a secret tune on the piano, or watch the students below on Van Meter, unsuspecting, ignorant of all they’ve left behind. Maybe they are angry that you have forgotten them. You, who used to smile at them every single time you picked up a container of Fruit Loops in the morning.

The new Student Market is even smaller than Heubeck, has even less space for the chaos of the 1:10 pm lunch rush. There is no excitement there, unparalleled to the ecstacy of finding out that Heubeck was serving french fries. Student Market tries to compensate with impossible burgers and vegan breakfast burritos, targeting those student demographics that Heubeck never bothered to acknowledge. It offers you Pick 3 with shaking, embarrassed hands, a full take-out meal for a meal swipe to address that the other food can only be payed for in Flex. But nothing will compare to Heubeck serving hot mac and cheese for lunch, or the joy of filling up your flimsy paper plate with greasy chicken nuggets.

With the closing of Stimson and Heubeck both, the heart of the campus has been unrooted. You feel unmoored, drifting from day to day; your body doesn’t recognize nighttime without a meal from Stimson or Heubeck. You struggle to feel awake in classes without your daily egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel, carried on a paper plate all the way down Van Meter. You are unaware, lost, unsure how to be the person you once were without these homes. The magic that existed in these places is gone, slowly drained away into the dirt below the Van Meter stone. The souls fed and inspired and housed, now left homeless, drifting. You can feel them, sometimes, on the edge of your consciousness. They call out to you, they whisper, Please come home.

Anya Schwartz is the editor for the Fiction section of the Q. She is a second year English with a Concentration in Creative Writing and Mathematics double major, and she is from Brooklyn, New York.

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