When I came home from the Army, there was so many places that I wanted to visit. I had been gone for ten years, and even though I had come home on leave to visit my family throughout the years, the visits always seemed short and I never seemed to have time to do the things I wanted to do. So one of the first things I wanted to do was to go to Round Table Pizza in Camarillo.
I remember the pizza joint so vividly as a kid. There were round tables in the center and up a step there were booths with wooden tables and partitions made out of wood. The dark wood was so heavy and fortified it felt medieval. I like sitting in the booths myself, because then you get a view of the round tables; but if the booths weren’t available then you get to sit at the table, which was pretty cool, too, because I always pretended I was King Arthur’s court and everyone at the table was a knight. I got to be King Arthur of course. My family never had a lot of money, so we never got to play the video games that were against the wall.
So I went there with my boyfriend, because I wanted pizza, and truth be told I don’t even remember if the pizza was ever very good. When I walked to the back where the tables were, I was so horrified. Gone were the beautiful round tables. They were replaced with ugly plastic square tables. Even the booths that were beautifully partitioned with wood, that made you feel like you were in a bower, were gone, replaced with plastic table as well. The scene was so ugly. We had already ordered the pizza up at the front, so we couldn’t leave, and my boyfriend and I were forced to eat at one of those monstrosities.
How can you have a place called Round Table Pizza if you don’t have any round tables? It didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to go home and write a letter about my disgust. I wanted to tell whoever was in charge that they ruined my homecoming. A piece of my childhood was taken away from me and I wanted it back. Now the name should be Crappy Plastic Square Table Pizza. I mean, I get it. Wood is not as durable as plastic. Maybe the round tables took too much room, but they made the place look rustic. Now it just looked like a Chuck E Cheez joint.
I ate my pizza in disgust, unhappy with the changes and accepting that my hometown was not the same. Places that I had cherished would no longer be there, and others that I detested, like Wal Mart, might creep in. I had had high expectations for my once beloved pizza place. I saw myself happily eating pizza in my own personal bower, and everything was ruined by plastic. I swear plastic is ruining our planet. As I ate my pizza, I realized that I really should lower my expectations of my homecoming. Things would never be the same. Not with Round Table pizza, not with my family or friends. I had to start over again. Starting over really sucks. I had been gone ten years. Everyone had moved on and changed, and I just wanted to come back home to a familiar place and for things to stay the way I had left it. Plastic tables were going to be the least of my problems. The relationships I had with my family were going to have to be rebuilt too and would soon prove to be so difficult. Some I have been successful at rebuilding and some I have let go. I let go of round tables and even of some people too.
Sylvia Clara Garcia grew up in Ventura County and is a student Veteran. She joined the Army in 2001 and served in the Army as a Psychological Operations Specialist until 2010. She is majoring in English and Geography and will be pursuing a Ph.D in Geography once she graduates from UCSB.