One week ago tonight, I was sitting in Shakespeares Pizza in Columbia, Mo. I love the place. It never changes, or at least hasn't since the first time I ate my first artichoke covered pizza there 12 years ago. Has it been that long?
The same chairs, the same old Indian motorcycle on top of the sturdy cabinet holding the silverware and thin ragged red towels that serve as napkins. Even some of the waiters and pizza makers look the same -- students that come in when others just like them left for higher paying jobs. I like Shakespeares because the Columbia we knew so many years ago is becoming a shadow of itself. Gone is the safe college town atmosphere. It's been replaced by a city bursting at its seams. Shopping centers, chain restaurants and large department stores that we only dreamed about are now a part of the landscape. Students hungry for some late night shopping no longer have to trek 35 miles to Jefferson City to find a 24-hour Wal-Mart. They are plentiful in Columbia now.
While in Columbia, we took our grandson to the doctor for his school physical while our oldest daughter, now a student there herself, was at work. It was the same office where we had taken our youngest daughter 12 years ago. She was 10 at the time she broke her finger at the pool. She's 22 now. It felt familiar, not old.
So we laughed when our grandson said his doctor was going to be old. "At least 15," he said. A medical resident at the College of Medicine, she didn't look much older than that.
When we left, we asked our grandson how old she was. "She was really old, I think 22," he declared.
"M, do you think we're old?" We asked, expecting a definite yes.
"No. You're not old. You're comfortable." he told us, with a hug.
And, maybe that's why we like places like Shakespeare's Pizza with it's ragged towels and pony-tailed pizza makers. It's comfortable.
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