Remember the Newness

I worked the lunch shift at Romeos Pizza.

When I started, I didn’t know how to make pizza. Didn’t know how to use the deep fryer without singeing my forearms or how to add extra peppers at the register.

“You’ll learn,” the manager said as she showed me how to roll dough. “Then it’ll be a cinch.” But I didn’t want to learn. I wanted to know. And I wanted to know now.

My first pizzas – pocked with more craters and bumps than the moon – were unsellable. A customer brought back an Italian I’d made because it was missing salami or cheese. Maybe both. A line out the door sent me into a tailspin.

After my first week, I was over being new. I wanted to be familiar, unfazed, able. I wanted to be a cool hand when my friends stopped by and good for a quick laugh while juggling four or seven orders.

But I was unfamiliar and fazed. And many miles from feeling able.

When I started college a few years later, a friend got on the phone to tell me this: remember what it’s like to feel new, because it doesn’t last long.

I did learn how to make good pizza (poke the dough with a fork before you sauce it). I learned how to work the deep fryers, to add extra peppers at the register.

I learned it all and I forgot that there was a time when I didn’t know any of it. A time when it wasn’t obvious, when I didn’t take it for granted.

We know so much. But there are versions of us from days and years back that didn’t know those things. Remember the newness. What it’s like to be in a moment with infant eyes and abilities. And let’s remember how we gained, gathered, and earned our familiarity. How we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.

And let’s never get over being new.

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