alvarado’s

It’s a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant on Davis Boulevard. Just to get in the place is a bit of a trick because you have to drive all the way around back to get to the parking lot.

So there I am, ten till three in the afternoon, ordering myself a couple enchiladas with rice and beans. Mexican food’s been my default since moving down south, and my default off a Mexican menu is always chicken enchiladas with queso. The cashier kindly accepts my request for cheese instead of the traditional red enchilada sauce.

I settle down with my Pepsi in a booth near a window. (I’ve always got to be by a window. I think it’s something about me and daydreaming… it doesn’t work as well when all you have to look at is brick-shaped floor tile and Formica tabletops.) Someone said this place used to be a Dairy Queen, but the windows are now bordered with thick burnt-orange paint. I realize I could never bring my family here. Maybe my husband, but never my family. It’s too personal. Too much like the dirt roads on which I used to drive home from work. Now, in the city, it’s a new place to get away. No one’s going to talk to me here. I might get a few stares, maybe a hello or two, but mostly just privacy… a place to relax.

But not today. Because I’ve just remembered I’ve got to be to work in ten minutes, and — “no thanks I don’t need salsa” — I’ve just gotten my food. I barely dig into one enchilada — burning my mouth in the process — when I realize I’ve gotta fly if I’m not going to be late. I scarf down some rice and beans.

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