Last week, I finished my last classes as an undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill. My week was filled with writing last papers, giving final presentations, applauding for my favorite professors and sitting on the campus quad with friends for the last time.
Of course, I also spent my last week eating some amazing meals.
I’ve written about Spanky’s Restaurant before, but I’ve never mentioned that it was the very first restaurant I remember eating at with my dad when we used to come up for trips to see the Carolina men’s basketball team. We used to come up to Chapel Hill as a family when I was a lot younger, but in high school, my dad and I started going just the two of us. We’d stay at a crappy motel and eat at the Carolina Brewery before the basketball games so we could take the shuttle to the Dean Dome. But since we were always in Chapel Hill for at least two dinners, I got to pick where we ate for the other night.
One time, I picked Spanky’s because it looked nice on the outside and it was right in the middle drag of Franklin Street. My dad told me he remembered when it opened back when he was an undergrad at Carolina. There was barbecue for him to eat and plenty of salads, soups and sandwiches for me to choose from. We kept the tradition going for many years, eating at Spanky’s at least once every time we were in Chapel Hill before heading over for ice cream cones at Ben and Jerry’s.
Since Spanky’s was one of the only restaurants I really knew about before coming to Carolina, it was the first place my freshmen year roommates and I went for dinner after our very first day of classes at UNC. We ate nachos piled high with guacamole, salsa and sour cream and tried to get to know each other. We were nervous and terrified to be on our own.
Nearly four years later, I found myself at a table at Spanky’s with two of my best friends I’ve made in college. We split nachos and updated each other on our lives and future plans. We were nervous and terrified to leave college. To leave the place where we became who we are. Where so much has changed from the first time I sat down at a Spanky’s table.
I’m not sure what the next year will be like. I’m not sure where I’ll be or who I’ll be with. But I know that I’ll always have these past four years at Carolina to look back on. I’ll always have the friends I’ve made. And maybe years from now, I’ll take my kids to Spanky’s so they can see the place where I grew up, surrounded by incredible friends, covered in Carolina blue.