I was telling Michelle that my dream is to have a house with a cat and hardwood floors.

The hardwood floor is there partly for cleaning up after the cat. But also for me, because I love hardwood floors. I love how you can slide around with socks. I love how smooth and cold they are on your feet. I love how as a kid I could stand my Lego mini-figures up straight.

I’m not sure what other requirements I’d have for my house. Honestly, doesn’t even have to be a house. I prefer my apartments for now. Don’t need to fix anything yourself.

But I do want a nice kitchen. A good stove, a good vent. The vent I have now literally just blows air through the microwave. I don’t even know if it filters things at all.

I’ll see. I got a wok today. This 14 inch carbon steel monstrosity that I seasoned this afternoon. I’ll cook something with it tomorrow. Chicken, maybe. But definitely mapo tofu sometime this week.

I love that dish. It goes so well with rice. All that sauce, all that pork, all that tofu. Brings me back to my random visits to UIUC. I’d take the Illini Shuttle down from the suburbs. Spend a few days sharing a couch with Chris. They were already doing three people in a two-bedroom, so when you added me in, things got even more fun.

Visiting always felt like going back to high school. But with more alcohol, more games, more freedom. All good.

One place we always went to was Cravings. This Chinese restaurant that didn’t charge tax if you paid with cash, and which also made the best mapo tofu I’ve ever had. Probably the cheapest too. Was like six or seven dollars for a giant plate that we’d share.

I want to go back to that. Back to college, back to food memories, back to the places I passed through before.

Brian Lin is a writer, runner, and stray cat lover. A recent Duke grad in CS and English, he is a software engineer by day and a typewriter poet by night.

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