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Essays

In the Spirit of Spontaneity: Dining at Oscar Wilde NYC

I have never been one for spontaneity. In fact, I try my very best to avoid it. I conduct my days with a planner, multiple to-do lists (both physical and digital) and a perfectly color-coordinated Google Calendar to ensure that my life goes according to plan. But on Sunday, when my roommate, Carson, asked me if I’d like to join her for an under-24-hour trip to New York City, something changed. An adventure that would require me to skip classes, buy last minute plane tickets from Logan to JFK, and, of course, scramble to make dinner reservations, seemed to override my love of planning and preparation. Carson needed to obtain a student visa from the Danish embassy for her study abroad plans next semester, and, desiring a travel-partner, extended an invite to me. We escaped Boston College’s campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, for the bustle, glamour, and anonymity of the city.

After a quick 45-minute flight spent admiring the glitter of city lights over the landscape, we touched down in New York. We were on a mission: cram as much into our schedule as possible. With that, I scoured my favorite app, OpenTable, for any sort of dinner reservation for two in Midtown. My search requirements included buzzwords like “trendy,” “young crowd,” and “quick bites,” which conjured over 100 results in a matter of seconds. Driven by the spirit of the Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde (located at 45 W 27th Street) opened in 1933 and pays homage to its namesake as one of the most prolific writers of the Victorian era. Knowing that I’d be studying at Wilde’s alma mater in the spring, Trinity College Dublin, Oscar Wilde was an easy choice. With a few clicks, our reservation was set.

After we trekked a mile through the biting cold air of the city, we arrived at the Oscar Wilde restaurant-front adorned with bundles of Christmas lights illuminating its doorway. The cutting chill of a November evening was abated by the gust of warmth as we entered. The cacophony of jazz music and chattering patrons welcomed us in as the young hostess showed us to our table. New York City’s longest bar at 118.5 feet, topped with Italian white marble, reigns over the space. The walls are artfully crowded with avant garde pieces: oil paintings, portraiture, and roughly 26 clocks all curiously set to 1:50PM, which, after a brief Google search, we realized was the time of Wilde’s death.

Gently sipping on a “Northern Nightingale” concocted with tart Sombra Mezcal and sweet orange and lime juice, I perused the small “New-American” menu. The short selection consisted of small plates which perfectly complemented our appetites and table space, as the restaurant was crowded with young professionals getting drinks with coworkers. We happily decided on crispy calamari, chili lime fries, and tuna tartare to split between us.The sweet, tangy spice of the french fries and the crispy freshness of the calamari was an elevated bar treat. The tuna tartare constructed with a buttery, rich, raw tuna, complemented by the earthiness of sesame oil and crunch of puffed noodle strips was the star of the night. Upon the shining white marble, engraved with Wilde’s aphorisms––“be yourself; everyone else is already taken” and “you can never be overdressed or overeducated”––plates were cleared and fall semester memories rehashed.

Carson and I eat dinner together almost every night in our apartment on Commonwealth Ave. and yet this communal experience of food, changed with the spontaneity of our trip to New York and pure friendship, was a restorative and transformative experience. Amidst the bustling patrons, I felt my friendship with Carson grow deeper. Regardless of the fact that I have slept only four feet away from her for almost three years now, there is still so much of her personhood and our friendship to explore. As I close the fall semester, knowing that many of my closest friends, including Carson, will be spread across the globe studying at numerous universities, I felt that this moment of reflection insured for me the closeness and necessity of these friendships, no matter where I am in the world. It was dining at Oscar Wilde that actualized my love for adventure and connection, especially over delicious meals with friends. 

Cover Image Courtesy of Oscar Wilde NYC

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Essays

Beyond the Twenty-First Mile

Their voices echo through our apartment: 

“GOOOOOOD MORNING BOSTON.” 

It’s six o’clock in the morning and “Levitating” by Dua Lipa blasts through the sides of the TV. The music invades my silent slumber as a welcomed intruder. My roommates pile up on my bed, rousing my sleeping body awake. 

Today is the 125th Boston Marathon, otherwise known as Marathon Monday among Boston College students. While runners from all over the country trek down Commonwealth Avenue, some at record speeds, the students assemble on one side of the MBTA subway tracks to compete in our own marathon of sorts, that is, screaming, dancing, and laughing with one another as we cheer on the runners.

I awake before the sun, the air buzzing with excitement and anticipation for what the day will hold. I am in my third year at Boston College and yet, this will be my first Marathon Monday. Traditionally held in the spring, the Boston Marathon was canceled the past two years due to the pandemic. Today holds its long-awaited comeback. The morning mist rises from the asphalt-turned-racecourse on a crisp Autumn day as my roommates and I begin to fuel our bodies for the events ahead. The muffled roar of our Keurig draws us all to the kitchen. We watch the machine work overtime to brew hot cups of caffeine. We clutch our mismatched mugs, sipping our morning elixir with the hopes of getting a pseudo-runners high induced by ground coffee beans and sweet swirls of creamer. 

A few clicks and now the stovetop hisses awake; blue and orange-tipped flames dance around the bottom of a frying pan. We’ve been living in Unit 32 for three months now and have yet to discover how to ignite the front burners, relying solely on back burners for meal prep. Monday is not the day for stovetop concerns, however. We have marathoners to cheer on.

Along our countertop, we form a breakfast assembly line. I have been assigned egg duty with a unanimous vote by the women of Unit 32. One of my roommates, Zoe, whips together a sriracha-mayo condiment while another roommate, Caroline, carves into our slightly stale bagels, giving each one a browned crispy toasting. My third roommate, Carson, is there for moral support, counting me down with a “1… 2… 3… flip,” and announcing each egg as my “best one yet.” Executing the perfect 180-degree flip while protecting the fragile golden yolk, I craft over-medium eggs blanketed with a thick layer of bubbling American cheese. We playfully debate the proper schmear for our breakfast bagel sandwiches, with cream cheese versus butter first on the agenda. I opt for a light buttery coating over my everything bagel polka-dotted with sesame seeds and a generous drizzling of the pink speckled sriracha mayo. 

Photo courtesy of Fork in the Kitchen

Together we gather on our living room couch, pop music mingling with the crunching of toasted bagels and the gentle sips of hot coffee. Bagel in hand, roommates beside me, I look out on Commonwealth Avenue. With the perspective of two years as a college student and the anticipation of two more years ahead, I recognize the privilege I have in slow moments like these: enjoying a simple breakfast in my tiny apartment, embraced by palpable energy only a celebration like today can provide. As the excitement flows from the streets and into Unit 32, I  take this moment to slow down and share in a communion of bagel sandwich goodness before the runners rush by and the world watches on. In my moment of reflection, I am reminded of the power of Boston.

It has been eight years since the Boston Marathon bombing, and as we prepare to celebrate just how #BostonStrong we’ve remained, I reflect on the lives lost and terror experienced. But, gathered with friends who have bellies full of food and spirits to stretch 26.2 miles, I am reminded that through the strength of community, the city has regained its pace. It reminds me that we have a responsibility to bear this tradition proudly, that while we cheer on the marathoners at mile twenty-one, our energy carries them to the finish line. It reminds me of the outpouring of love and support that human beings share with one another. It reminds me that the human body accomplishes incredible feats and that the human spirit does too. 

It reminds me that Boston is back. It’s been 910 days, but Boston is back. 

Cover image courtesy of Fork in the Kitchen