It’s been so long since I’ve let poetry bubble up I’d forgotten what it was like to evoke emotion. To be honest, I don’t know as my words have had such an effect as this before.
Back in the days when I decided to be bold and try new things, I read in the paper about a local kickstarted pizza cart, Pizzeria La Sorrentina, near the car museum. I was (and still am) a foodie and was inspired to write an honest, albeit gushing, review on their Facebook page.
I never did that before. Oh, sure, I’d like a friend’s page about their small business or band, but they were always people I knew in person. With every bite of the pizza, I wanted more and more to meet Daisuke Matsumoto, the Japanese gentleman who studied pizza in Italy to not just learn how to make pizza but to become wonderful at it. I realized he was (and is) excellent at making pizza. His passion pours into every knead and stretch of dough. For me, paying sixteen bucks for what some would consider a “small” pizza is worth every single cent.
The least I could do was post that review. And share in their hurt when a fire damaged the cart in 2016. And hasten in their tiretracks as they trundled off to park outside the brewing company up the road. And grow even more excited as Daisuke won awards for his pizza in Las Vegas. And be more enthusiastic as I met his wife Amy, and tried smoked duck on pizza and smoked buffalo mozarella on pizza or even a delicious “plain” margherita pizza.
And grow more elated when at last they announced their decision to pursue a brick and mortar restaurant.
By that time, I became known among my friends and family as the guy who wouldn’t shut up about my favorite pizza place. Many of them accompanied me to the blue cart and soon shared in the joys of fresh sizzling pies from the wood-fired oven.
I watched with bated breath and much impatience as hurdle after hurdle arose in the road to the grand opening. Amy and Daisuke possess fierce determination and dedication, as every food-cart owner needs. At long last, opening day! Daisuke even had his mentor, Biagio Longo, from Italy there to assist him with the preparation and launch.
Their soft open day was March 14th. The next day, Governor Inslee posted the Stay At Home Order to help curb the Covid-19 curve.
I felt gutted. I’d managed to go both days they were open, even when I was supposed to be in Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con, and was cheered to see the place was packed. But now, all the local restaurants either had to adapt to take-out or delivery to retain any sort of business. Daisuke and Amy’s first priority, rightfully, was to focus all efforts on returning Longo to his home, which was no mean feat considering Italy was a pandemic hotbed at that time. The brick and mortar restaurant had been two years in the making and my gloom fumed at the prospect of an epic example of quality and community turning casualty to Covid.
With mask and gloves in hand, I adjusted to Covid Life and Married Life as best I could and moped whenever I thought of La Sorrentina.
Then one Tuesday morning in May, I sat down at my work computer (on my break, if you’re wondering), and dashed off a plaintive love poem on La Sorrentina’s FaceBook page.
They said it helped. Guys, they said my writing encouraged them as they decided whether or not to open back up again in the midst of social distancing and sanitation requirements.
They liked it so much they put it on the wall. And had me sign it.
And now La Sorrentina is open again. Even though the dining room can’t be as crowded as opening day just yet, even though more food is going out the door in takeaway bags than on to the tables, even though Covid-19 is still with us, the oven is hot, the pizza is excellent, and the eyes are smiling above the masks as you enter.
All that to say, I never expected my simple, goofy little poem to help. Everyone needs encouragement, no matter how small or silly or alliterative or not. Write that fan mail, everybody, to your loved ones, to your friends, to your public servants, to the people you forgot to thank, and everyone else.
Don’t assume they know your love hasn’t stopped. Let them know for sure.