This last week in my life has been a particularly hard one. While juggling school, URHC and medical school applications, I fully began to appreciate one fact of life: the hardest part of growing up...is growing up. School is hard, I can't eat my mom's meals as often as I used to, I have to work a job during the summer and I only get to see my eldest brother a few times a year since he moved to DC. We are always told that life is full of changes. Unfortunately, we inevitably still seem shocked when one day we look back and certain aspects are gone.
My childhood was dealt a significant blow when Dynasty Express announced Monday that they were closing permanently. For those of you who remember, I actually mentioned Dynasty as my shameless plug of the week a few weeks ago. It was a small Chinese restaurant on the Strip run by genuinely nice people who always seemed happy to see me. I know, you may be asking yourselves why I would be so worked up over this restaurant. Words do not do my emotions justice, but nevertheless, I will try to explain them to you.
On Monday, my girlfriend texted me, claiming that Dynasty Express had a sign in its window and boxes were strewn across the floor. I don't think many of you would have predicted that my next actions would be somewhere along the lines of sprinting across campus in the pouring rain to check, but that's exactly what I did. I saw the sign as soon as I arrived. It was a modest message, only saying that they were closing for personal reasons and thanking the customers for years of memories.
I peered inside the glass windows and saw Phillip, part owner of Dynasty Express since its beginnings in the 1980s. Phillip is a friendly Chinese man who always, without fail, was working behind the counter taking orders. I tapped on the window and he opened the door for me. I thanked Phillip for the years of service and memories the restaurant gave to my family.
Since its opening, my dad has surely been one of Dynasty's most loyal customers. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad coming home from work through the back door with take-out boxes of Dynasty Express. I cannot even begin to fully describe the joy that gushed forth from five-year-old Hunter when he realized it was a Dynasty night. I would always eat the Beef with Broccoli, my dad would have the Shrimp Fried Rice, my brother Spenser preferred the Chicken with Cashew and my mom would eat a little of everyone else's. Their egg rolls were a perfect combination of meat, vegetables and deep-fried goodness, but I would only get them when my dad was paying. It was our go-to place when he would visit me for lunch once I started college. Heck, I even managed to convince my then-girlfriend that that's where we should have our Valentine's dinner during my freshman year of college.
For a little hole-in-the wall place, Dynasty Express holds a bright spot in the Tipton family's collective heart. Perhaps that's why after nearly 25 years, Dynasty feels like something more than just another closed restaurant on the Strip to my family. It feels like something significant that we enjoyed for so many years has left, and it's not coming back.
My dad canceled a lunch date at Dynasty with me last week, and it continues to bother me deep down. If I had only known it wouldn't be here a week later, if I had only known it would be my last shot at a Dynasty meal, if I had only known it would be our last chance to do something that was inherently special in our relationship, I would have made it count and more fully appreciated the experience.
Sadly enough, I will never get to have another Beef with Broccoli dish from Dynasty Express. I will not get to share this love with my children as my parents did with my brothers and me. That one small constant in my life has been removed, and I suppose I'll have to live with that. However, I will use this opportunity to say thank you to Phillip, Jeff the delivery guy, and everyone else who made Dynasty Express run all those years. Thanks for all that you've meant to the Tipton family, and thanks for serving as the centerpiece for so many memories. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
— Hunter Tipton is a senior in microbiology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.