My daughter and I are trying to remember the name of the Florida pizza place we went to in March, 2011. Since we both draw a blank, she plugs the appropriate keywords into the Google search box and goes through the list of restaurants that come up, one by one. My daughter calls out a name, I replay it in my head and then come out with either a no or a maybe. When I say maybe, she usually looks at the picture of the restaurant and says that it can’t be because it looks nothing like the place she remembers from last year.
We eat at a lot of restaurants when we go to Florida. I don’t want to cook (I’m on vacation!) and my mother, whom we are visiting, does not want to spend precious grandchildren-bonding time grocery shopping, prepping food, and cooking meals. So we go to restaurants and we eat cheap food, we eat expensive food, we eat waffles and tuna melts and filet of sole. And after most meals (not breakfast, usually), we go out for Haagen-Daas or Ben and Jerry’s or our new favorite, Menchies, a do-it-yourself frozen yogurt/sundae bar.
Today, after a morning at the beach, while eating a lovely and full lunch at Seasons 52, a “fresh grill with a seasonally-inspired menu,” which we follow up with a stop at Menchies, we discuss, as we often do, where we would like to go to eat our next meal. Mom usually makes a few dinner reservations for meals during our stay but for the most part, we point to a spot, find our way there and usually wait for a table to open up. I’m feeling like we’d been eating too much real food and suggest pizza for dinner, and my daughter pipes up that we should go to that place we went to last year. She remembers how none of us were hungry and we kept saying we should go back when we had an appetite because the pizza was soooo good. We decide we’ll go there for a late dinner; that way we’ll have room for the delicious pizza.
My mother usually would be able to help us remember the name of the place where we’d eaten. She lives in Florida seven(?) months of the year and admittedly eats out a lot. But on this single occasion, we’d gone out without her. She’d been invited elsewhere, so my husband, daughters and I ventured out on our own and fell into the pizza place whose name we can’t recall. My husband and other daughter will arrive in Florida tomorrow so they aren’t here to help us remember, so it is all on me and daughter #1 (that’s birth order not preferability ranking).
Back at my mother’s place, depending on Google to jog our memories, we find it. Daughter #1 calls out Rosedale Brick Oven Pizzeria, I say maybe, it sounds right, she says the picture is small but looks like it could be the place, and my mother, from across her condo, shouts that she’d heard that Rosedale was really good so that must be it. It also is close to us, an added bonus. We are all very pleased with ourselves and daughter #1 and I go to the bookstore because she’s just finished one book and is in need of something new.
On our way to the bookstore, we pass Rosedale, look at each other and shake our heads. That may not be the place, I say. It doesn’t look like it to me, she says. But maybe it’s just that the outside was fixed up, I say. We should stop by on our way home, she says. If we have time, I say.
It takes us awhile at Barnes and Noble. Daughter #1 has her mother’s book snob genes, which means that she’ll read any type of book but it has to be well written (when she was 13 or 14, she couldn’t get through the Twilight books because of the writing. Her friends thought she was crazy; I was secretly, or not so secretly, beaming with pride). When she finally finds a book that meets her standards, we buy it and return to the car.
We should go look inside the pizza place, she says as we drive away. When we get there, we park, go up to the window and look inside.
Not it, I say.
Definitely not, she says
We need to find it, she says.
We’ll look at the signs as we pass all the strip malls on our way home, I say.
And if you feel the impulse to go a different way, because the spirits are directing you toward the right place, then go with it, she says.
Okay, I say tentatively.
Really, she says, her voice all ethereal, feel your way. That’s the only way we’ll find it.
I look directly at her to make sure she hasn’t gone off the deep end and the sly yet excited look in her eye and that huge smile that kills me every time I look at her breaks me. I start laughing and can’t stop.
Is it telling you to go down that road? she says. No, no. I hear it. Don’t go that way.
I can’t stop laughing. Her voice is the perfect voice-inside-my-head voice, dramatized. (you’re getting slee-ee-ee-py).
We drive and we look. I let my impulses guide me. She makes wisecracks every time I make a wrong turn. She takes my IPhone and looks up Yelp.com for brick oven pizza in this part of Florida. She calls out names and I say no or maybe. With the maybes, she tells me where they are located. In most cases, I have no idea where that road is. When I do, I’m not sure I know how to get there from here. I’ve been going to this part of Florida for a long time but I mostly know how to get from my mother’s place to all of the beaches, to certain restaurants, to the downtown area, to Barnes and Noble, and to the airport. That’s about it. Finally, I note the time and turn down the street to get back to my mother’s home.
Where are you going? she says. I don’t think that’s the right way.
We have to go home. We’ll check on Google again, I say.
Aw, Mom, she says and I think the same thing. What a bore I am to go home. It’s not often that my almost 16 year old and I get to have fun together without some better option coming her way. And right now, she doesn’t want this to end. But we have to get back. I have my mother’s car and she thought we’d only be out for a short while. What if she needs the car? What if she’s hungry and ready for some pizza? Not that we’d be able to take her to the place.
Back with Google, we finally find the place. There are pictures and it is definitely what we remember. It closed down, after last season. One reviewer on Yelp said exactly what I am feeling, “One thing that puzzles me is how people crowd the wrong pizza joints. . . .these awful bad chain pizzerias are jammed packed on weekends, yet these pizzerias stink. On the other hand, this place is never packed, yet the quality, the service and the taste of the pizza far exceeds any the other so-called pizza joints in the area.”
My mom and daughter #1 end up going to the market and bringing home a rotisserie chicken, broccoli and a loaf of French bread. We eat at the kitchen table, the three of us. After dinner, we don’t go out for ice cream or frozen yogurt. We do a few things separately and then daughter #1 joins me on the sofa where I have settled in to read. She cracks open her new book and we read to ourselves, side by side. Suddenly, she breaks into laughter. I look up and she tells me what has happened in the book that made her laugh. I smile. It’s funnier when you read it in context, she says. I know, I say.
She turns back to her story, giggling to herself. I wait a beat. I watch her (somewhat surreptitiously). At this moment, I feel really truly happy. I allow myself to enjoy the feeling. Then, I turn my attention back to my book.
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