Senior Retrospective: Emilia Petrarca

Five-hundred-twenty-five-thousand-six-hundred empanadas. How do you measure, measure four years? In dumplings, in arepas, in plantains, in cups of bubble tea. In pulled pork, in cupcakes, in laughter, in strife. It’s time now, to write out—though the story never ends. Let’s celebrate, remember four years in the life at Twisted Soul.

When I think back on my time at Vassar, it’s hard for me to pick out certain moments as being the highest of highs [insert drug joke here]. It’s all a bit of a blur in my memory, which is perhaps a sign that I really am getting older. But there has always been one constant in my life at Vassar—the pillar of my palette and apple of my appetite: Twisted Soul.

Freshman year, a shared love of fried chicken with noodles, peanuts and green onions yielded my first Vassar friendship. Bianca and I went twice a week—Tasty Tuesday included. (Twisted Tuesday, alternatively.) We ordered the same thing every time, except Bianca liked her empanadas extra crispy—a demand the chefs only tolerated because of our continued patronage. By the end of the year, the staff could recite our orders and a bond was forged between us stronger than two halves of a sticky bun. We applied to transfer from Cushing to Joss in order to be closer to Raymond Ave., but were denied.

Sophomore year, Bianca and I extended our friend group beyond the walls of our dorm. Though only a select few friends were invited to join us at Twisted Soul—an act similar to the Plastics recruiting Cady Heron at their lunch table. In short: if you didn’t like Twisted Soul, chances were we didn’t like you. We both made plans to go abroad in the fall with hopes of extending our friend group globally. My last noodle bowl in America was an emotional one.

Junior year, I roamed the streets of Paris in search of an equally enticing empanada to no avail. Bianca studied in Costa Rica, and for personal reasons did not return to Vassar in the spring. I like to think that she simply found better empanadas in Central America. Back in Poughkeepsie I panicked: how would I fill the now empty chair in my Soul? I lived off-campus in a house with four people I admired, but they didn’t share my fiery love for fried chicken…yet. By now, I’ve managed to enlist enough of them that my cravings never go unrequited. That spring I lost another friend for more complicated reasons and Twisted Soul became my safe space. Always a home away from home, its familiar atmosphere was the only thing that kept me sane.

Of course, the comforting food at Twisted Soul is what got me in the door, but it’s not what brings me back. College is a tumultuous time where almost nothing remains the same, whether it is your classes, your living space, your professors, your friends, etc. We all need something immutable to grab onto, like the center of a merry-go-round.

On a much grander scale, other than Twisted Soul school has perhaps been the most constant thing in my life, and now that’s ending, too. Every September I buy new notebooks and pencils and start the same process over again. The location and people may change, but I’ve always either been in school or on some school-sanctioned vacation. I recognize that my life-long education has been a unique privilege—a gift from my parents, who also benefited from this privilege. And I could not be more grateful for my diploma. But no more coddling. No more academic sheaths to hide behind. No more “advisors” or people whose only job is to ensure my well-being. It’s closing time. Last call at the bar. Empty the register and save the receipts. I’ve cleaned my plate; no crumb left behind.

But wait! I’m still hungry.

 

—Emilia Petrarca is an English major.

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