Cantina, a friend to many and an enemy to my liver, has died.
I’ll never forget the first time our roads crossed — I was 19 and standing in line to meet her. I remember preparing to lie about my age to avoid those X’s on my hands, but when I finally made it to the door, no one really seemed to care to even see the fake ID I spent $35 on.
It was love at first sight.
I dove in, and immediately knew I was at home. I loved her for the little things: the lighting, the standing on benches I had wrongly assumed were for sitting, and her four total toilets.
I remember her calling me on my 21st birthday. I remember visiting her in times of hardship. She got me back on my feet with her Taco Tuesdays and then knocked me flat on my back with her fishbowls of strange blue alcohol.
She wasn’t perfect and she didn’t apologize for it. She was often claustrophobic and at some points, well, a little trashy, but I knew what I was getting into.
I would’ve walked a thousand miles for her, even if there was a Later Gator and I lived out by the Oaks Mall.
One day I hope that I will be at peace with her passing. I did what I could to help with her battles (God knows I went to more happy hours than anyone) but her lifestyle choices had finally caught up to her. When I got the news, the grief brought me to my knees.
I will miss my dearest Cantina, and will see her in my dreams. I’ll tell my kids about how I met my first love there, celebrated so many Gator wins (and losses) there, and even got my first black eye there—it’s a long story.
At least my legacy will live on forever in the initials I sharpied on the bathroom door.