King Tut Cafe and Hookah was my home away from home.
I used to live down the street from this place when I still went to Arizona State University (2012-2014); stepping into that lounge at the end of a long day was always comforting and thrilling. Anyone who knew me at the time knew exactly where to find me after hours: King Tut Cafe and Hookah.
I’d show up there every evening with a book, some homework, and my laptop. I was always inspired to do something brilliant when I was there, whether that was schoolwork, writing, or simply thinking.
King Tut’s was magical.
Sometimes, my friends would even come to meet me there. Many of them didn’t smoke hookah [and back then, I smoked too much hookah], but we’d talk and laugh late into the school night, go there for refuge at the end of a long evening of festivities, or conclude a day of community service or shopping by plopping into one of their homely booths.
It was a place of inspiration, friendship, comfort, youth, and love for me. When I left Arizona State University a few years early (I transferred to another school), I also bid King Tut’s goodbye with an aching heart.
Imagine the rush of nostalgia I felt when I returned there, three years later (2017), with some of my best friends and the freedom of spring break pumping through my system.
I was greeted by my favorite server, Tim — he remembered my old go-to hookah flavor (vanilla, cherry, mint), and made it perfectly [as always]. My friends and I spent time together there, and, for a short while, all was right in the world again.
I’m still in my mid post-college crisis phase: I’ve been a graduate for almost two years now. My friends, on the other hand, are older than me, and have had a few more years to struggle with the existential crisis that is early adulthood [sans university].
Going to King Tut’s was like stepping into a time machine for us — we transformed back into carefree college students, and things like our long distance friendships and the worries of our tomorrows to come temporarily left us.
King Tut’s was truly a blessing.
Last night, as we headed over there to celebrate my birthday and my brief visit in town, we all discovered that King Tut’s is now permanently closed down. It wouldn’t come up on any of our Google Maps, and after a little bit of investigating, we uncovered the sad truth: King Tut’s is gone forever.
We awkwardly met in a Taco Bell parking lot after this, where we were unsure of where to go in this post-King Tut’s world.
I know it hit me harder than it hit my friends — it wasn’t as simple as King Tut’s closing down for me. It was as if though my beacon of a happier, simpler time was gone; I’ve officially been thrown out into this gigantic, scary world.
And yet, life is change.
King Tut’s moved on, and now I have to as well. Growing up is this terrifying thing — aging is equally rough. I can see adulthood straining the faces of these amazing friends of mine, girls who were young and nearly carefree when I left back in 2014.
It’s strange, but it’s life.
King Tut’s closing permanently is my metaphor for the reality that those youthful days are now completely behind me… behind all of us.
We will never be young and silly and carefree in that way again. We’ll watch college students party on a Tuesday night and be nostalgic for the days behind us. We’ll be reminded about how nervous we are for the days ahead [not that we can shove those thoughts out of our heads all that easily anyways].
But, I also know that things will come together for my friends. They’re brilliant — adulthood is rough, but they’re all going to find a way to make it wonderful. They’re some of the most capable people I know — I have no doubt that things will work out for them.
As for me, I’m not really sure what comes next. Yesterday, I turned 24 years old and discovered that the fortress of my youth is gone forever. There’s no turning back now — the future is here, and it’s demanding, chaotic, and ambitious.
But then again, so am I.
Goodbye, King Tut’s.
Thanks for the memories. 💘