Goodbye To All That

by Sanai Rashid 

It is May. Despite the lingering cold weather, and the fact that my bookbag is still so heavy even though I am in the notorious second-semester of my senior year, never in my life have I felt so excited about the future– while still feeling nostalgic about the past I will inevitably leave behind as I go to college in the fall. As I walk to school each morning, I have noticed a difference in how I view the buildings I used to ignore. I find myself stopping to take pictures of the trees that dangle over my head, the morning sky over Hell’s Kitchen suddenly looks so blue, and even the tulips on the sidewalk seem to burst with colors that fill my heart with new hues too. 

But soon, this will all be a fragment of my past as I graduate in a month and say bye to Beacon — the school that has become a home away from home for the past four years. 

There are so many memories one makes during high school that it can be hard to make sense of it all as graduation season comes around. But as a writer, I am keen on organization and have already been categorizing the highschool moments into little mental photo albums in different corners of my brain. In my handwriting I can see a first-day school memories album, theater memories album, library memories album, and junior year alone deserves a whole scrapbook at this point. But of all the tiles that have colored in my mosaic of Beacon, I feel like I have never given enough love to one group of tiles in particular: the lunchtime spots of Beacon.

Since Principal Brady gave upperclassmen permission to go outside for lunch in my junior year, the fifty-minutes of E band I can call my own have been filled with trips with my friends to new restaurants and food places that I now find comfort in. Even the breakfast stores I stop by on my way to Beacon at 8 am in the morning, have become routine destinations that I know will never let me down.

There is a profound connection between food and memory, food and security, and simply food and joy. I will now highlight some of the lunchtime spots that will forever be sketched in my mental map of my high school experience at Beacon. 

Vanilla Gorilla

In freshman year it was the Funfetti Muffin, in sophomore year it was missing that same Funfetti Muffin (Covid), in junior year it was the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin, and now in senior year it is a freshly baked croissant and medium hot chocolate with oat milk nearly every morning. 

Less than a two minute stroll from the train station, and always open before I make my way to school, Vanilla Gorilla is by far my favorite coffee shop in Beacon’s radius. Yes I have heard all the complaints. It is always packed with tourists, the sandwiches aren’t really that good, it’s overpriced. And I can’t say that these thoughts are wrong. A $10 breakfast certainly makes my wallet wince, but there is nothing like the first sip of a Vanilla Gorilla hot chocolate. It reminds me of baby formula, and it perfectly soothes the exhaustion of the morning and coats my tongue in chocolate divinity when I need it the most.

Despite how packed Vanilla Gorilla can get, I find comfort in being surrounded by so many other people while I am left to work for hours. I have studied for AP Biology at Vanilla Gorilla, learning the intricacies of NADPH and the Krebs Cycle as students from Beacon walked past. During a junior year lunch my friends and I went to Vanilla Gorilla to try to buy Harry Styles tickets off of Ticketmaster, since we knew the WiFi there would not let us down like Beacon’s often does. A year later, my friends and I secured the coveted Taylor Swift tickets as we anxiously munched on muffins on VG’s sprawling blue couch. 

My solitary moments at Vanilla Gorilla also fill me with joy as I eavesdrop on other conversations that float past me. I have seen a grown man fall in love with his Spanish tutor (even though they both admitted they were taken). Silently applauded a young man who excitedly told his friend that he just started teaching a new dance class downtown, and will soon have a theater internship over the summer. I wonder what strangers have heard my conversations with friends about everything from college applications, to where we want to rome in Europe during our college summers. 

Though these strangers and I may never cross paths again, I am thankful to Vanilla Gorilla for carving out an abyss of security, peace, and coffee (admittedly not for me, though) in one of the most hectic neighborhoods of Manhattan when I needed it the most. 

Healthy Market Deli on 45th & 10th

Everyone has their favorite deli. Surrounding Beacon alone there are four delis at every corner of the block, and one may serve better smoothies, while the other may have fresher bread, but no matter their differences, they all have the classic kind yet sarcastic owners ready to serve you your sandwich. My favorite deli is often underrated in the Beacon student deli preference, , the Healthy Market Deli on 45th & 10th. 

Right by the corner where my dad drops me off in the mornings, Healthy Market has the familiar aura of every deli: rows and rows of seltzers and snapples, a rainbow assortment of potato chips, long lines of construction workers eager to get their coffee for the morning. I know the deli’s layout like the back of my hand, and always feel welcomed as I walk inside the door and strut to the back by the sandwich stand to place my order.

Turkey, cheese, lettuce, and mayo on a roll, please! 

At this point the owner has my order committed to memory, and I find it funny how I have now become a regular at this store, in the owner’s life, as the familiar rotation of people at the deli have now become familiar faces to mind as well.

The cashier always instructs me to tell more Beacon kids to stop by Healthy Market! I’ve slowly introduced  my friends into their deli, smiling as we smell the piping hot Dominican food they sell during lunch time, and have even gotten my dad to order his breakfast sandwiches from there now. 

It is no secret that New York has the best and best delis in the world. How I will miss my turkey, cheese, lettuce, and mayo on a roll when I go up to Providence, the soft bite of a sandwich, sip of a snapple, and crunch of barbeque chips on a Tuesday lunch can not be beat. 

Gotham Market

Bougie but beautiful, Gotham Market was the spot during junior year. 

When we juniors could only go out for lunch on Fridays last year, my friends and I almost always went to Gotham Market and eagerly pulled out our vaccination cards, awaiting the obligatory wristband. With a variety of options like pizza from Corner Slice or tacos and plantains from La Palpa, Gotham is a food market if there ever was one.

All of Beacon’s underclassmen seemed to populate Gotham on those Friday afternoons, and the assorted mix of friend groups was amusing to see as we all ate lunch. And on some days, you could even spot Beacon teacher’s at Gotham, the mini celebrities of our high school world. They always tried to be incognito as they grabbed their lunch, but we noticed them.

Though I don’t frequent Gotham as regularly anymore, as the sun has started to come out, you can be sure to find me at Gotham’s outdoor seating that spans the whole city block, soaking up the sun and sipping a delectable lemonade, so achingly sweet, from Corner Slice. 


Claudios!!! Hearing this name will bring me joy for the rest of my life. As a slightly cheaper alternative to Gotham’s Corner Slice, Claudio’s is across the street from Beacon and has brought much comfort through classic-NY style pizza slices, and garlic knots that are simply like buttery clouds in the midst of a chaotic senior year.

My friends and I have found a deep security in Claudio’s tiny vicinity, always securing a table in the back of the store so we can watch as the line to order food trails out the door as the midday lunch-rush picks up.

Aside from the cheesy slices and homey vibe Claudio’s provides (aged paintings of Italian boats, portraits of Sylvester Stalone, and Italian flags dot the store’s brick walls) the owner of Claudio’s, Claudio himself, adds another joy to the dining experience. 

In my time as a New Yorker, I have found that the older folks of this city always have a story to tell, and Claudio has enterianted my friends and I on more than one occasion with his dad jokes and tokens of wisdom. He knows we are all so young and have so much life left to live.

Claudio doesn’t work the counter everyday anymore, so when my friends and I see him on the rare occasion now, it is as if he has become a good luck charm, his full beard and bright smile letting us know that everything will be alright.

A couple of weeks ago, our good luck charm, Claudio, greeted me and my friend Olivia with hugs and smiles. When we asked if he had any advice for us as we graduated high school and headed off to the real world, he chuckled.

“Remember,” he sang in his sweet Italian accent. “Be yourself, and the rest will follow.” And to instill some self confidence, he added, “We are not better than no one, but nobody is better than us.”

Thank you, Claudio.

Honorable Mention: My favorite ramen place, which I would prefer to keep on the low, but just know this ramen spot has seen me through the best of times, the worst of times, and will forever hold a space in my heart that sings everytime ramen greets my nose.

So goodbye to all the sandwiches, croissants, pizza slices, and hot chocolates that have filled my stomach over the past four years and have made me the person I am today. 

I will miss you Beacon and the food you have allowed me to explore dearly. What a time it has been with one another. 

— Sanai

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