This weekend, we decided to take Sasha on one of her big Firsts: first trip to the Flying Burrito. Now, the Burrito is where I worked for seven years or so, during college and then after while I was writing my first book (and my second, and then my third, which was the one I actually ended up selling, That Summer). Anyway, I LOVE the Burrito, and see it as a big part of my past and my life. Earlier this year, though, the original owners sold the restaurant, which was then closed for awhile while the new owners did renovations. Every time I drove by, I’d look over, wondering how different it was going to be. And then, this weekend, I got to find out.
It IS different. Like, the bar is on the whole other side, where the quieter dining room used to be. And the office is now a bathroom, and the wait station/kitchen is closed in, so you can’t hear every word said (or, usually when I was there, shouted). Plus they took up the carpet, painted it this pretty yellow, and put lots of prints of cacti on the walls. All good. And the food was REALLY close to the same. I got my standard Flying Chicken burrito (chicken, rice, salsa, sour cream) and queso, chips and salsa as a starter. The baby loved the rice, and all in all, it was a good time. But the entire time I was there, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the OLD space. “We’re sitting right where the margarita machine was!” I said to Sasha, who did not care one bit. Everywhere I looked, I saw not the new, but what had been there before. Not the pretty, new leather booths, but the old ones, squeaky and held together with duct tape. (Nope. Not kidding.) Not the gorgeous, minimalist decor, but all the old clutter: Durham Bulls pendants, Craig Gurganus surfboard fish, and the little sculptures my old boss Phil called his “Mayan art” which were really these somewhat obscene figurines of people in various positions, um, together. He always insisted on keeping them right by the bar, where we were always moving them behind glasses and the lava lamps, they were so embarrassing. I missed the lava lamps, too, now that I think of it.
But this is just me. I am so stuck in the past, the queen of nostalgia. Anyone else walking in there would just enjoy the great food, and the blues music (which is a nod to the old place, as well) and the fact that it is bright and clean and open again, which is all that really matters. After dinner, I took Sasha out of her high chair and walked her around. “This is where I used to roll silverware,” I told her, as we passed where the old hostess station was. “And this was section three, the hardest section of all, especially on a Friday night.” Again, she was not that interested. I guess your history is only fascinating to yourself. But for some reason, I wanted to tell her all this anyway. Maybe so I don’t forget, which it seems like you could easily do when something is spackled over, and repainted, and made new again. I lived a LOT of my life at the Flying Burrito. I cried in the walk-in cooler (more times than I’d like to remember) I danced on the bar, I slung a million Flying Chickens, filled a million chip baskets. It was the job that allowed me to become a writer, and for that, more than anything, I will be forever grateful.
Plus, that queso was GOOD. Yum!