More than six years ago, I moved from Houston to a small town in Central Texas. There were all the typical fast-food places and three local restaurants.
There wasn’t a Chick-fil-A or Whataburger at the time, and the restaurants mostly served country cooking. There was one Italian place, where I went only once.
I didn’t care much that the eating-out options weren’t the best. I actually didn’t give it much thought, because me and my family mostly ate at home. That is, until we tired of cooking and wanted a night of eating out.
The town we lived in was about 30 minutes outside Waco, so we drove there to find a place to eat. We got to Waco and decided to go to Olive Garden. For me, Olive Garden is just a place I go with a big chunk of family when we want a familiar place.
But that night, I was extremely excited to eat at Olive Garden. And it was because I missed eating out at a place where I knew what to expect from the food.
Then I began to miss having more than fast-food options and three restaurants that I never really enjoyed.
I had taken Houston’s cornucopia of food options for granted before moving, which made me realize I hadn’t really taken advantage of all that Houston had to offer.
I spent almost two years in that small town dreaming of restaurants in Houston. Luckily, this was before the big restaurant boom in the Heights.
When I moved back to Houston, the first place I went to eat was Shipley Donuts on Ella Boulevard.
A few years later, I found myself in an RV on the one main highway in Alaska with nothing but sandwiches to eat every day for more than a week. And again, I was reminded that I needed to support the places I loved in Houston when I was able because I might not always be in Houston. I might be stuck in the wilderness with nothing but turkey, ham and white bread.
Do I sound a little spoiled? Of course. I think living in a big city where anything you want is accessible does that to you even if you don’t realize it. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate the time I spent living in Central Texas or my trip to Alaska. I’d choose eating sandwiches for every meal for a month if that’s what I had to do to be able to go back.
If I moved again, I would probably find new favorite restaurants, but I’d still miss visiting the ones here, like Cavatore, Miller’s Café, Helen in the Heights and Gatlin’s BBQ.
What it comes down to is enjoying what you have while you have it, because it might not always be available.