Six years ago I moved to Madison, started a new job and began my search for the most beloved pizza in my new city.
The workplace, it turned out, was a pretty stellar environment for discovering pizza places. With a wide array of co-workers to poll, you quickly uncover a diverse range of preferences.
On one of my first days at the office, I recall chumming it up with my neighbor at the desk next to mine, our conversation naturally turned to our all-time favorite pizzas.
He could sense my passion as I eagerly painted mental pictures of greasy thin-crust pies cut in squares with toppings positioned under extra cheese. As I rambled on about Rosa’s and Gus’s and the small-town pizza of my youth my excitement must have rubbed off, because before I could finish my sentence he blurted out:
You have to try Maria’s in Oregon!
He told me the tale of a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria off the beaten path, where the pies were thin, loaded with toppings and prepared with the same finesse and tradition by the same small family for 40 years.
It sounded right up my alley, and immediately topped my list of places to try. But, as time went on my list kept getting longer and longer and somehow Maria’s kept falling farther and farther—they always ended up on the back burner.
Now, they’re closed.
That’s right I missed out on Maria’s. The phrase “you snooze, you lose” has never hit closer to home. All I’ve got are the legends, the myths, some dingy yelp photos and a facebook post with all their tables upside down.
To make it worse, the closing of Maria’s came as no surprise, they posted early on last month that Sunday, June 30th would be there last day of operation. I was forewarned and reminded by colleagues at work that my days for Maria’s were numbered, but still, I didn’t act.
As the sand in Maria’s hourglass thinned I heard rumors of lines out the door—die-hard, long-time patrons, stopping by to pay their respects like those gathering for a wake. The Oregon Chamber of Commerce even gave an appreciation award to owners John and Joanne Indelicato for so many valued years of service.
As I sat at home and dwelled on the pain of missing out, an ad for the revamped Lion King floated across my Fire Stick homepage and provided me a reminder of one of the most fundamental laws of our universe.
The circle of life.
Just as one local legend was closing their doors another was about to reopen theirs. After a 2 year hiatus, Rosa’s in Whitewater was finally resurrected from the fire damage that put their operation on hold. So, while Maria’s had folks lining up to pay their respects, Rosa’s had lines forming to celebrate their return. With death comes new life.
Ed Sheeran is quoted by saying “Pizza is a circle. Pizza is my life. Pizza is the circle of life.” While I can’t say I enjoy his music I do like his pizza analogy.
The way I see it though, life is more like one long pizza buffet, sometimes we’re up next for that piping hot slice of our favorite variety and sometimes the breadsticks bin is empty.
But, we need those burned frozen pizzas, 2-hour late deliveries, and lukewarm gas station slices to know the true joy of pizza when it’s perfect. If it wasn’t for those sour moments the sweet would be meaningless.
We can use this insight to aid us in our day to day routine. By tuning our minds to this balance, we can appreciate life when life gets tough. The Tibetan Buddist Lama Yeshe said, “If you expect your mind to be up and down, your life will be much more peaceful.”
What pizza taught me:
Missing out on Marias was bitter, but that longing was recompensated with the reopening of Rosa’s. When disappointment strikes as it inevitably will, it’s assuring to remember that we need the bad to appreciate the good.
What I’m not eating: Maria’s because I missed it.
What I’m eating: Rosa’s because it reopened.
What I’m reading: This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See –Seth Godin
Thanks to Justin for the recommendation all those years ago and Amanda for the reminders to catch them before it was too late and the picture!