Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

That’s a little song I wrote about Chipotle. Love takes everyone by surprise, I think.

Today, Chipotle announced that all of its locations would close on February 8 to address safety concerns that arose from a recent E. coli outbreak that affected locations from Boston to North Dakota. For many, this is just the latest sign that it’s time to give up on the burrito chain. I disagree. I refuse to be deterred by conventional safety. I will eat Chipotle until it fucking kills me.

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The first time I went to Chipotle was around 2004, when the then-novelty of a burrito chain opened within two minutes walking distance from my high school. Those were the years that I would eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, Pizza Hut for lunch, Mexican food for dinner, a liberal sprinkling of brown sugar Pop Tarts packets to keep me leveled out between meals, and a large bowl of cereal at 2 a.m. Do you remember being 15 and literally insatiable? A dining establishment that served burritos so large that I felt alarmingly full for hours—a novelty then, and honestly, a novelty now—felt like a miracle. It still does.

In college, there was no Chipotle on the University of Virginia campus. My best friend (a guy with whom I maintain a close, fulfilling relationship that nonetheless began when I messaged him on Facebook before orientation because I noticed that we were the only two freshmen whose listed interests included both Sigur Ros and Chipotle) and I made do.

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There was a local Qdoba, which was okay. There was a burrito bar at the dining hall, which came with the benefit of the burritos being “free” but the cost of the burritos being just small enough (and the two of us always stoned enough) that we would often order two burritos each and eat them quickly, which then frequently necessitated that we lie down. He had a car and we both liked music, so we drove to D.C. for shows and Chipotle, and would get an extra burrito for our dorm fridges to go.

Somewhat bittersweetly, he transferred schools just as the Chipotle came to town; his presence was replaced with a burrito-based consolation of which I would avail myself weekly with friends.

After graduating from college, I prepared for my Peace Corps departure by glutting myself on all the things I knew I would not be able to access in a remote location. This was a long list of vices that included one virtue (Chipotle). I arrived in Kyrgyzstan having unexpectedly started dating someone two weeks before leaving; in my sullen fog of lovelorn sentimentality, I didn’t expect the next thing that happened, which was making four dead-center-in-the-heart pals. We took 11-hour bus rides across the country to see each other; we taught at each other’s schools and slept five to a bed because the floor was freezing; we stayed up till the sky got rosy talking about what we missed from home, which was a lot of different things for each of us but for all of us, Chipotle.

“Hypothetically,” we mused, “we could get someone who’s going back to America for Christmas to pack some Chipotle in a dry ice container, and then it’s only 12 hours to Moscow and then the layover and then 4 hours to Bishkek—do you think the guac would go bad?”

The Chipotle fantasizing was particularly useful to me because I, for the first time in my life, had lost my appetite. I was cut off from easy access to produce and markets in general, and was always sick from the water: I was eating less and badly, and my hair was falling out. When I came back to Texas, I couldn’t handle the general portion size, which meant I certainly couldn’t handle Chipotle. When I finally got a burrito, a few months after returning, I was still in a deeply self-flagellating emotional state in which I believed myself unworthy of Western consumer comforts; I could only get halfway through the carnitas before trying not to cry.

I moved to Ann Arbor a year later for graduate school, where there was a Chipotle a block from campus. I went alone after workshops; one day, I saw something that I still find extremely haunting.

Fuck.

In the fall of 2014, I moved to New York and started working at Jezebel. The transition was easy, even comfortable: there was a Chipotle on Spring Street, close to the old offices, after all.

Then came the gospel: A CHIPOTLE WAS OPENING A BLOCK FROM MY HOUSE IN FORT GREENE.

I counted down the days. I texted a friend and fellow Chipotle enthusiast constantly: we planned a joint stunt piece, in which we would compete against one another to see who could go the longest eating exclusively Chipotle, and then we would write about it in a viral piece of internet content whose body would just say:

We feel great.

The day approached. I talked about it incessantly.

My coworkers noticed.

I frequently felt as if I could think of nothing else.

On the day of the long-awaited opening, unexpectedly, there was a delay. NOT QUITE YET?

When the Chipotle finally opened, my friend and I brought them balloons.

Though it’s startling to see the chain in the context of my neighborhood, the vibe in there, at first, was good. During dinner hours, the lines stretched through the restaurant; the warm light emanating off the burritos looked comforting on a twilight walk.

Now, the Chipotle pretty often looks empty. Everyone is afraid of E. coli, I guess, or prefers something with “more authenticity,” or would rather not eat three meals’ worth of food in two minutes and then want to go to sleep for the rest of the day.

But not me. I love Chipotle. I am not afraid of the things that please me. I would never give up on this one-way but nonetheless requited love. I got Chipotle for my first meal out in the new year and I got Chipotle again a week ago. If you’re curious about my order, it’s a burrito with brown rice, black beans, carnitas, hot salsa, green salsa, corn and cheese. That sounds good, right? Yeah. It’s really fucking good.


Contact the author at jia@jezebel.com.

Photo via Getty.