I decided to head back to my home town for the day. For me, going home brings mixed emotions but it’s always a good thing regardless. Going home reminds me of where my family comes from in a literal and abstract sense. My family comes from a poor area on the peninsula in the bay area. The dynamics are strange and unlike anything I’ve seen in other cities. You can live on a block that’s full of working class families where gang activity strives and the next block over will be million dollar homes where trust fund babies are sheltered from the ugliness of the world. It’s the only area where on one side of the street you can see a panhandler outside a liquor store begging for money and smelling like a dead possum, and on the other side of the street is a Ferrari dealership. Because of this strange dynamic I believe its one of the most interesting places to be.
One of my earliest memories is of a doughnut shop called Happy Doughnuts. My father would take me there as a child before school and treat me to a doughnut and a milk. If I was lucky he would buy me two doughnuts. I was really happy to see that happy Doughnuts is still in business and the doughnuts are just as tasty as I remember! It is however under new ownership. It made me quite happy to see it stilling running strong being a mom and pop shop surrounded by the being corporate shops. There is something to be said for quality of a product over the mass-produced. It might cost a little more, you might have to wait a little longer, but you get a product that has a soul.
I headed to the opposite side of town. The area that holds the high-end shops selling the over priced goods. Everything that the elite would want can be found here. Done get me wrong, I hold no grudges or ill feelings towards anyone who is well off. I’m sure they worked hard to get to the positions they have and I applaud hard work. After all, this part of town is still part of my town.
This side of town holds one of my favorite pizzerias. The man behind the counter, now in the twilight of his life, is the same man I remember as a child. He does not recognize me, but I remember him well. The pizzeria is almost exactly the same as from what I remember except the brick oven is gone. I ask the old man what happened to it. He tells me the city told him he had to get a new oven or pay an extremely high tax for the brick oven. Times being tough, he got a new oven over paying the taxes. This is the only waiver he makes from his traditional pies. I order a prosciutto pizza for one. I waited 15 minutes for it but it was worth it. Nothing but the dough is pre-made and even then he eye balls the size of what he believes will feed me. He uses sauce he made in the morning before he opened, hand slices the prosciutto, cuts the veggies, and watches the pie like a hawk in the oven running at a scalding 600 degrees. He brings me the pie and I’m in heaven. As I prepare to walk out after finishing my pie, he asks me how I liked the pizza and with an enthusiastic smile I tell him its better than I remember. He smiles back and nods accepting my thanks.
Just before I reach the door I turn back and yell in my basterdized Italian:
He looks up and yells back:
“Molto benvenuto paizano!”
I walk out and decide head to my house, because in reality, I’m already home.