The fall after I graduated from IU my friend and I packed our bags and moved to Virginia to start fresh. She was attending grad school and I just wanted to take a break from life. After four years of studying hard, working hard and interning hard, along with always having been the hyper-responsible oldest child, I just wanted to see what it was like to do nothing. And so I waited tables at California Pizza Kitchen in Richmond, Virginia.
Being a hyper-responsible person in the restaurant industry is not recommended. You will be ripped out of a deep sleep on more than one occasion when you have a nightmare about not delivering salad dressing to the right table. You will creep your tables out on slow days when you pay just a tad too much attention to their progress, making sure they want for nothing. Additionally, managers will have you open and close, staying late to oversee all side work, checking over other people’s duties and then scrubbing every surface until it’s clean. And sadly, you aren’t making tips during this time, just raking in $2.13 an hour.
All this is to say that nine months after I started, I decided to use my college degree instead of waiting tables for a living, but not before I developed a deep love for all things CPK. I may not have been paid well but I always managed to walk out of work with a meal to split with my boyfriend (now my husband). At 11 pm each evening I’d show up at his doorstep with dinner from CPK. He’d have just gotten off of work at Kinko’s, still in uniform too. We both wore nametags. We’d sit in mostly silence eating likely the only real meal we’d had all day. Then we’d take some time to dream about where we’d be in the future and what we might do “when we grew up.” But we always resolved that, even if this was as good as our life got, it wasn’t half bad.
One of our favorite meals from CPK was the Tricolore Salad Pizza. It’s a light salad tossed in balsamic vinaigrette set on a lightly carmelized Neapolitan crust. It’s the meal I think of when I think back to our late nights in Virginia. And happily enough the only CPK in Indianapolis opened about 5 minutes from us just this week. I’ve been hyped about it all summer. And tonight when we got home from work we tried to settle on the perfect meal for our moods. We both had rough days and just wanted a glass of wine and something comforting… a Tricolore Salad Pizza. But 5 minutes just seemed too far to drive. So we spent an hour making it from scratch (using this recipe) and spent another hour eating it on the front porch, enjoying it without wearing nametags or uniforms, and looking back at the last eight years.