#pizza #boardwalkfries and #gelato

‘You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.’–Maya Angelou

people holding sliced pizza
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A couple of days ago, I started talking about how hometowns change but our feeling and memories remain the same. My husband has been away from home since he was eighteen years old and joined the Marine Corps which has taken us around the globe and back for many years now. I went away to college when I was eighteen. He always teases me that while I was learning in the annals of higher education he was getting the shit beat out of him via the school of hard knocks fondly known as Parris Island, South Carolina and only months later cutting his combat teeth on foreign soil. While he was travelling the Middle East and spending time at sea and in the Honduras, I was doing less learning and more growing. After a year away at college, I went back home because I was having a hard time adjusting (a secret about me? I was an awkward sort back then, very introverted and backward compared to my college mates—I unlike my husband wasn’t quite ready for the real world).

It didn’t take me long to get myself into a position where I had to get ready for the real world whether I wanted to or not. I spent my 21st birthday being inflated and miserable with swollen feet and an achy back awaiting the appearance of my first born. I believe I talked about his April Fools’ Day appearance a few posts ago. For two years I stayed at home, going to school, working a full time job, and tending to little Mr. April Fools’ until I married for the first time in 1993…meanwhile, the love of my life was also married to someone else and had a three month old baby girl.

Etc, etc, etc…more deployments, three divorces…

1996: We meet.

And quite frankly neither of us was as grown as we thought we were, but we forged forward. Within a few months we were married and within a year of that we were on our way to Okinawa, Japan.

So, you can see, we’ve spent the majority of our adult lives away from home, the last twenty plus together. Well, as together as deployments and the military allowed. And home was always there waiting for us when we could sneak in a trip as the USMC saw fit. But, after a while, home is still home, but it feels less and less like a home. And that is why I can totally relate to Maya’s quote above. You never leave home completely, but after lengthy periods of making a home, you can’t go back either.

‘Where thou art – that – is Home.’–Emily Dickinson

So it is, we’ve made our home, which consists not of sticks and bricks, but heart and soul. Our home was typically where the military landed us and was never in one place very long, but we’ve come to learn, it isn’t the structure or place which is home—our home is in our hearts and where we are together. Where he hung his cammies and I found a table to set up my laptop—and where our kids could come see us, for their homes are elsewhere now, as well. We are home for them, but where they also can’t come back. Our “home” is now the Smokies since MarshFox retired last summer, but we each have admitted we already feel the restless call of the road beckoning us, so who knows how long this will remain “home” before we pull chocks and move on.

The other day, I talked about how our childhood homes are changing, but our memories and feelings remain the same and shared a bit about the library and a diner which influenced the writing of The Delaneys of Delaware, particularly book, A Slower Lower Love. Want to know what made its way into book two, A Slower Lower Life?

Grotto Pizza.

Sooner or later the entire cast of The Delaneys of Delaware books find themselves at a place called Girabaldi’s, eating pizza and board walk fries followed by gelato. And Grotto was the real life pizza place which influenced and served as example to my fictional pizza place, Girabaldi’s.

In 1996 when MarshFox and I first met, he took me home over the Thanksgiving holiday to meet the family and in turn took me to see the ocean for the first time. And while on the boardwalk, we visited the Grotto there and a love affair between me and their pizza began. Pepperoni, extra cheese and mushrooms. You don’t need a thing else on that pie. So obsessed I was with the pie that when we managed to land orders to Camp Lejeune, when his family would come to visit from Delaware (a six hour drive), they would bring half-baked pies and we’d finish cooking them off and have dinner. And boardwalk fries? Oh. My. Gravy! No other fry compares and you simply must eat them with malt vinegar and mayo. Not! Ketchup! That condiment on these fries is pure sacrilege.

Grotto is and always will be an institution in Delaware and serves as one of the places we absolutely have to visit every time we go home.

Cait is as obsessed with Girabaldi’s as I am with Grotto going so far as to demand it in the middle of the night while she’s awaiting the birth of her first born. And while she and Bryce work on making a home, Kurt finds himself up against the woman who will force him to do the same…From book two, A Slower, Lower Life…

It seemed to Kurt that the half hour it took to get to his brother’s new house was longer than the two-hour drive from Baltimore that morning. The ride was just as silent, but this silence was uncomfortable and deafening. At least the silence from the morning had been tolerable. When he parked in front of the newly refurbished colonial home on the river front, Deidre didn’t even wait for him to turn off the engine. She flung the door open and bailed out. With her purse dangling from her fingertips, she marched up the steps. She obviously didn’t know the rules in the south. No one used front doors unless they were strangers and no one used the bell unless they were a salesman. Well, in Cait’s case, maybe a client but even some of them were debatable. Kurt left her to look stupid on her own and walked around the side of the house to the kitchen door to let himself in. 

“Something smells good,” Kurt noted, closing the door behind him. Cait was nowhere to be seen and Bryce stood over the stove stirring a big pot. 

“Spaghetti sauce,” Bryce answered, laying the wooden spoon down. “Cait’s into Italian this week. Last night at nine I had to call in an emergency order to Garibaldi’s and drive all the way to town for a sausage and onion pie. Can you believe that? What happened to pepperoni with extra cheese? Where’s Deidre? Cait’s been excited all day.”  

At that moment the bell rang and Bryce looked at Kurt sighing.  

“Hey, she’s pissed at me and wouldn’t wait so I let her go,” Kurt explained.  

“Pissed at you. What did you do to her?”  

“What did I do? I didn’t do anything except retaliate. She started it, talking about how she didn’t understand how Cait could live here, like here was a dirty word, insinuating we’re all a bunch of….”  

“Kurt, she’s not used to being in the boonies. That’s all. How would you feel if you landed in Chicago without prior knowledge of what to expect? I don’t think Deidre’s ever been anywhere with a population of less than at least a half million.” 

“And that’s an excuse to be rude?” Kurt reached in the refrigerator and grabbed a Guinness. “I thought city people were supposed to be all open minded and accepting—you know, whatever for whoever.”  

“I didn’t say it was an excuse,” Bryce answered, pulling four plates down from a cabinet. “It’s no more an excuse to be rude than you having the hots for her is.” 

“What did Mom tell you?” Kurt demanded. 

“That you tried to trade her off for Aunt Rose and had no good explanation as to why. The only thing she could think of was that you’re attracted to her and knowing you, you’re hating yourself for it and having a hard time ignoring your suppressed urges.”  

“Our mother actually said that?” 

“Yes. She’s a grandmother, but she’s not dead. How do you think they came by eight of us? So, again, I ask, exactly what did you do to Deidre?” Bryce moved into the adjoining dining room to set the table.  

“Where’s Cait?” Kurt asked following with a basket full of garlic bread. 

“Jesus, Kurt, you do have it bad, don’t you? Where do you think? The bell just rang thanks to your lack of consideration.”  

“I said something ugly about Deidre’s family on a hunch from something Mom said and Deidre went ape shit.”  

“You did what?” Bryce stopped what he was doing and glared at his brother. “You do need laid. Your thinking’s all foggy from lack of sex, isn’t it?”

I can’t wait to be sharing these books with the world again!

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