I do not know why we picked this particular pizza place. The close proximity to the sari shop probably served as my parents impetus to try this restaurant. Sliding into the small, but cozy space, only a few guests could choose to dine in this establishment. The walls were bare and you could smell the cigarette smoke coming from some of the employees. I don’t think my parents realized that they inadvertently discovered a “hole-in-the wall” place to eat.
The evenings when we frequented this pizza place contained an easy rhythm. The familiarity of certainty added an element of comfort. When my father opened the smudged glass doors, a bell dinged. As we walked in, the swirl of tomato sauce, baked pizza crust, and the faint smell of cologne greeted our arrival. My father walked up to a single counter in the back near the pizza ovens, where he talked to the owner. It was one of those places where the staff wanted to know your name. They talked, but I am unclear what words were exchanged. A laughter brewed between the two of them and I heard the voice of my father saying, “Make sure the pizza is extra crispy. It is ok if it takes some time.” The bearded gentleman always said, “Ok. You got it.” He grabbed the white styrofoam cups handed them over to my father.
It took forty minutes for the pizza to come out of the oven. Extra-crispy always took some time. Our family talked about nothing in particular. So much time has passed since those pizza days, that my mind has lost the substance of what we actually said.
I do remember the feelings, though. The energy centered on light, laughter, and the feeling that says, “They are family.” When the piping hot pizza came to our table, my father’s friend said, “Enjoy, guys.” We all took a bite and commented how the cheese and crunch were a perfect combination. I think my father enjoyed the fact that we appreciated his extra-crispy request.
This past month I learned that after fifty years that pizza place is closing its doors. I ran across the headline on my Facebook feed and read it twice, almost like I was deciphering a foreign language. I thought of my father, family and the time we spent there. The feelings of sadness, nostalgia, loss, happiness, and sorrow hit me in a panic.
As I write about this, I am struck by the fact that I can only revisit this memory with my father in my head. This abrupt realization creates a rush of fear like I am in free-fall on a roller coaster.
I say out loud to no one, “It wasn’t just a pizza place.”
This brought a tear to my eye, Rudri. I’m so sorry for the loss of this special place. But you are so blessed by your vivid memories.
Thanks, Kerry, for your words of support. You are right. I do take solace in the memories and although I cannot revisit Pizza Villa, I certainly will carry the warmth of those evenings in my heart. xoxo
It’s sad to lose a place which holds such special memories for us.
I’m so sorry, Rudri…this is so poignant for both you and the long-time owners of the pizza place. It’s a double loss, and this reminds me of a post you had written some time back about the tree at your old house. I always feel a certain amount of sadness and loss when a familiar business closes its doors, and can imagine it is doubly hard when you have associated one with your father.
It is a layered loss. As time passes, it appears that many of the places that contained memories of my Dad are no longer present. This fact is sad for me, but I take solace in knowing that I can recreate some of those comforting feelings by writing about them in my space. I appreciate your tender words. Thank you.
Those are the best kind of memories. So sorry it’s closing!
You write so eloquently. It is sad when bits of our past come to an end. This pizza place and the time you spent their with your family will be preserved forever here in your words.
Thanks, Robin. Recreating that memory in my own perspective helps preserve the time I spent with my father and my family. I am grateful that the strength of this memory channelled into my piece. As always, it is nice to see your encouraging words in my space.
I am so sorry, Rudri. I feel your loss. xoxo
Thanks, Ayala. I know that my words resonated with you. xoxo
Sorry to hear its closing Rudri 🙁 The memory will always live on in your head – why not go before it closes its doors and take some momentos for you to keep? 🙂 Listen to Happy by Pharrell, it never fails to make me feel happier. Hope you find some happiness today -Iva
Iva, it is always difficult to see a remnant of your physical past shutting its doors. I wish I could visit, but this place is located in another state. I love the idea of collecting something from the restaurant as a keepsake, but for now, I will have to rely on the photograph.
I also enjoy that song by Pharell. It is certainly upbeat! Thanks so much for your uplifting words.
So sorry about this! It’s amazing how places can bear such a significance to us where to others it’s “just a pizza place.” Changes can be so difficult!
Yes, Nina, you hit the sentiment exactly. This pizza place was a treasure for my family, while others may have passed it a dozen times and just thought it was another restaurant in a strip mall. Our perspective is always in whatever we experience.