Back in my college days at Barnard, my friends and I had a few good places where we loved eat. But as time has passed, more and more of those places have closed. The latest to see demise is Wrapp Factory.
There was one semester where we had Wrapp Factory for dinner at least twice a week. It was fantastic. The wraps were big and bursting with rice and things like teriyaki or jerk chicken. They made the wrap a meal. Mmmm. And their smoothies were great too, if we were in the mood for that — and had the extra cash.
In the past years, a great Chinese place, Empire Dynasty, closed. Our beloved Ethiopian restaurant Zula was shuttered too. Our local market, the West Side Market, closed and opened again. The student center where we got our mail was razed to make way for an enormous new student center and school building. It’s just amazing how much things can change . . .
Every time I hear about another neighborhood change, it’s like another of the tiny stings that tie the still youthful me to my college days is snipped. In my mind, the neighborhood should never change, because it was good as it was — with scaffolding and redevelopment and imperfectness — and because that was how it was when my class was there.
But I know that things do change, whether we want them to or not. The school will finish its new Nexus perhaps in the next year. A new class will enter the hallowed halls of Barnard in the fall, with a newer neighborhood than the one I lived in. They will laugh with friends as they cross the same College Walk, going to different take-out joints but attending the same classes. They are smelling the same scents of city life, but gazing with a younger, newer, fresher outlook. It’s new and it’s old. It’s the same and it’s different.
I can never get my experience back. No matter how much I would love to return to my college days, I can’t. The imperfect neighborhood and the imperfect me can only move forward and change with the times. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be — if only for a day or two — that young woman free in the big city with infinite options and possibilities all around again.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.