The Boy Who Ran

First impressions are always confusing. You kinda want them to be true. You see someone with this perfect life; they are smart, tall, and run for a division III track team at a high calibre college. But deep in the back of your mind, you know perfection does not exist and everyone has something they hide from the public eye. But it’s there.

Jacob “Jake” epitomized what I had imagined the perfect person to look like. He’s in the Olin business school at WashU and runs short distance track for the WashU track team. Balancing academics, sports, and social life at WashU is not easy, but Jake somehow manages to do all three. He’s tall and his good-natured smiles are enough to make you want to be instant friends with him. As the old saying “never judge a book by its cover,” it’s fair to say that Jake’s life has not been easy.

On his wrist, he wears a bracelet, which honors his late father who passed away a few years ago. Not having known this originally, I would never have guessed. Jake is one of those people who seems to be in a constant state of exuberance. My view of who Jake is as a person hasn’t changed, obviously, but it’s empowering how Jake walks around with such pep and confidence in his steps. He enjoys playing spades with his suitemates on a daily basis and never says, “no” to impromptu Wal-Mart trips at 1 AM.

When asked about his favorite foods, Jake seems to recall meals from simpler times. Off the top of his head, he lists three: Chipotle tacos, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, and caramel rolls. He tells me that Chipotle tacos are his family’s go-to meals, whenever they are busy or in a rush. “My mom and dad and me, when we wanted a quick fix, we’d go to Chipotle. I always got three tacos- chicken, steak, and carnitas. Cheese. And a Fanta/Sprite combo.”

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The caramel rolls. I originally thought I heard wrong and he was talking about cinnamon rolls. But no, caramel rolls do exist as my later investigations proved. Jake’s grandmother makes these, packing a dozen in the same orange Tupperware every year. He tells this story with a longing look on his face as he describes the how he would heat them up when he got home, watching the caramel glaze drip from the sides of the buns. He cites them as the “best breakfast food” and would often “eat two at a time.”

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Lastly, he talked about Papa Murphy’s Pizza, a take “n” bake pizza joint in his hometown. Every Friday, after school and track practice, Jake and his friends and family would head over and grab a few pans of pizza for “Pizza Friday.” He had a job from late grade school to early middle school on Fridays as a paperboy and would often get pizza afterwards. Usually, the two types he opted for were all meat and pepperoni. Luckily, his sister hated sausage so she would give them to him.

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Each food Jake talks about highlights a different part of him. The caramel rolls emphasize his relationship towards his grandmother and how much he values the little customs he shares. I know every Valentine’s Day, he received a two dollar bill from his grandparents, which would go towards his college tuition. The pizza represents his affection towards habitual practices, like eating fresh pizza in the comforts of his home surrounded by friends and family. Finally, the Chipotle, possibly the most common and well-known food from the list but also one of the most meaningful. Even though he only stopped here to grab a quick bite, those few minutes spent in the restaurant meant more to him than simply eating. While remembering specific details may be troublesome for Jake, he recalls these moments with affection rather than bitterness about his loss. It’s nice to hear that Jake still has these memories and food to hold on to.

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