Jenna Mahaffie
2 min readDec 11, 2020


Craving salt and desiring anything but a pile of dishes, I picked up the phone for takeout. “What do you want tonight?”

A seemingly simple question, and yet in the year 2020; it felt unnecessarily loaded. What do I want.

I’ll paint a picture:

I want to be in a metaphorical center that could be anywhere but feels like the middle of the damn universe. I want any collective of my dearest friends to walk down an unassuming winding staircase to a dark, busy bar with little exposure to the outside world. It will smell faintly of cigarettes but also laundry and cedar. I want to order top shelf craft liquor, neat, make it two. I want there to be live jazz playing in the corner, but not overly loud; just faintly enough to make me feel like I’m an adult, which I am most certainly not. I want my friends, colleagues, and mentors to filter in and out all night while we stay put at the bar, drifting from the music in the corner to conversation that involves a lot of eye contact; you know the type. I want the jazz musician to leave sometime around 2 AM, and the bartender will start to play Arcade Fire while weaving in and out of overly dramatic 90’s deep cuts, and we will get fucking weepy. I want to tip huge; in cash. I want to walk upstairs and outside to early morning blue light brimming ever so slightly upon some horizon; wherever we are in the world. When the sun finally rises, I want to get bagels in the place “everyone goes,” the one where, if walls could talk, would tell stories of asking for raises, of staying sober on prom night, of deciding to get that tattoo, and of contented 6 am silence.

I do not want anything extraordinary. I want to feel transcended in the mundane; a divorce from the outside world, if just for one night. But for right now, I’m still out here, navigating the less than celebrated in-between with a side of Szechuan chicken.