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Well, here are a few from my past.

First, here I am with my high school girlfriend, Abby-René, at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. If I had to guess, this photo was probably shot sometime in May 1993, just after we went to prom.

Look at all that hair!

Next up, me, Abby-René, Beth, and my old friend Elden. This one was also shot at Great America, probably in May 1994, also just after prom.

We're just babies, man!

And finally, here I am with Emily, an old college girlfriend. Apparently, I was unable to buy clothes that actually fit me. Everything I’m wearing is horribly baggy, and I have no idea what’s going on down in my crotch area. This one was shot in the summer of 1995 at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

No idea what's going on down in my crotch area.

Pretty sure camera phones have forced these into extinction,

-Shady

Nandita! Eighteen years later!

…when we both moved into the freshman dorm at the Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) in Columbus, Ohio. We haven’t seen each other since she graduated in May 1998.

Last night, Nandita and her husband Raj came over for dinner.

It was great seeing her again after all this time, and I promise to not let another 18 years pass before we see each other again.

Reconnecting with old friends dulls the pain,

-Shady

Cbus on a garbage can? Come on!

One can even features a music venue I’ve been to more than any other venue in the country: Newport Music Hall.

Newport Music Hall!

Amazingly, these garbage cans are making me feel nostalgic. Think I’ll have to visit Cbus again soon… which means these garbage cans are doing their job.

Columbus is no trash-can city,

-Shady

More than a decade later... I WIN!

Take that, Kaylor,

-Shady

The rubber taco is in my pocket.

Yep,

-Shady

Dag, yo!

Thanks to my good friend Jamie for sending this photo my way.

HTRSGNAHT,

-Shady

this print from my good friend Amanda Hope Cook, I also bought this print as a belated Christmas gift for my sister Bethany!

"Planters Peanuts" by Amanda Hope Cook!

Couldn’t post it until I gave it to her,

-Shady

"Goody Boy" by Amanda Hope Cook.

…of the Michael’s Goody Boy Diner sign in Columbus, Ohio.

From May 1999 to July 2003, I lived just a few blocks away from Goody Boy. I saw that sign nearly every day for over four years. It’s pure nostalgia for me. And one hell of a painting.

Learn more about Amanda and her work (and then buy some) here.

Yep, that’s a painting,

-Shady

So pretty.

Me either.

Not at all how I remembered it.

You ignore what you see everyday,

-Shady

You may remember this, which detailed that move.

Anyway, nine years later, in July 2003, I moved out of Columbus.

Before last month, I had only been back to Columbus twice since 2003: once to give a lecture about Tastes Like Chicken at my alma mater (CCAD), and another time when I was passing through on my way to Pennsylvania.

Oddly enough, that last time was in October 2008, and I was going to Pennsylvania to celebrate the recent marriage of my good friend Jamie and her new husband Dave.

Last month, I returned to Columbus a third time (in 11 years… holy crap) because Jamie and Dave (who are now expecting their first child) threw what would prove to be a memorable (and epic) reunion party.

Old friends, some of whom I’ve known for over two decades, came from all over the country to celebrate food, friendship, and a little bit of fire.

We kicked shit off right at Thurman Cafe. Oh, sweet baby Jesus… I’ve missed you.

A burger from Thurman Cafe. This would be my death row meal.

After a day of prep (to be read: a shitload of drinking to cope with our Thurman-induced food comas), we kicked off October 11th with a stop at Young’s Jersey Dairy, the farm we spent our first pumpkin picking at in October 1994.

There are three people in this photo who were also there on that first outing 21 years ago: John Marshall (first guy on the far left), Bryan Loar (fourth guy from the right), and yours truly (idiot wearing the bright-as-fuck orange pants all the way on the right).

The first stop: Young's Jersey Dairy!

Three-quarters of the original 206 Crew reunited (We miss you, Special K!)…

The 206 Crew: Part I

…who pretty much look like slightly older (and in my case, balder) versions of these three kids from December 1994.

Three-quarters of the 206 Crew.

Later, we were joined by a second-semester 206 Crew member: the Goon!

The 206 Crew: Part II

So many folks showed up! I love each and every one of them dearly.

The whole gang was there. And I love each and every one of them.

We quickly fell into our old hijinks… which, for some reason, usually involve farts.

Old shenanigans.

Before I left, a few of us ventured over to 886 N. Dennison Avenue, which (from 1999 to 2003) was famously known as “The Coop.” The two windows on the left of the second floor look into my old bedroom. This is also the building where Tastes Like Chicken was born.

The Coop: Original

I experienced so many amazing moments in this building…

886: 1999 - 2003

…and I experienced all of them with these two guys: Milan and Brett, my fellow original members of the Coop Crew.

The Coop Crew: Now

The last time we were together was at Brett and Marci’s wedding in September 2005. Before then, one of the last times we were together was in this photo, which was shot on the front steps of the Coop near the end of June 2003, just before we moved to Milwaukee, and Brett moved up to Cleveland.

The Coop Crew: Then

When we were living at the Coop, our good friend Michelle lived right next door at 888 N. Dennison.

Michelle and I returned to reenact our neighborly feud (which never really existed). Thankfully, no one was home at the time; that, or they just wondered why some old strangers were snooping around and taking photos on their back porch. Either way, this photo made it all worth it.

886 vs. 888

Back in the day, Milan had a habit of “tagging” Michelle’s apartment. He would write “WALL” on her walls, or “FISH TANK” on her, you guessed it, fish tank. One day, he wrote “MICHELLE” on the ledge outside her window.

It’s still there.

Michelle's name (thanks to Milan) is still written on the side of the building. In crayon.

We stopped next door and visited (and smoked a filterless Lucky Strike with) our old friend Eddie (who famously gave us this shotgun as a going-away present when we moved out of Columbus)…

Eddie!

…and his sweet wife Rose.

Rose!

Before it all ended, a group of us met for lunch at Katalina’s for Nutella-filled pancake balls and thick-cut bacon.

The Last Supper (or, more accurately, Lunch).

As Jamie drove Michelle and me to the airport, we made our way through downtown one last time. The city looks completely different than it did when I left 11 years ago, but somehow it still feels exactly the same.

Cbus.

It was such a great weekend. Seriously, it was one of the top-three events of my life, right up there with our wedding on October 30th, 2011, and my surprise birthday party on September 3rd, 2006.

Sure, the food and booze helped, but it was the friends (who are family), the laughter, and the love that made the weekend so amazing.

The bathroom walls in Katalina’s are covered in chalkboard paint; sitting in a tray beside the sink are sticks of chalk, which everyone is encouraged to use.

I did.

Truth.

And I do.

Let’s do it again… soon,

-Shady