We Love You, Home Slice

We Love You, Home Slice

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When my father was a college student, he moved from Pakistan to America, and like other college students, he fueled many late nights with pizza. Years later, like others, our family had a local pizza joint. Rarely, if ever, did we eat out, but pizza was the one exception. Sitting around the large, communal pie, and each taking a slice, my family seemed closest. When I moved away, I wondered if I would ever find pizza like that.

These days, I spend most of my work hours traversing Austin for meetings at different coffee shops. My routes often take me across or near South Congress, which means I feel a tug like a tractor beam from Home Slice calling me in for a quick meal. I often give in and grab a seat, eager for my paper plate and slice of cheese pizza. There’s always a good crowd: coworkers sharing a pie for lunch and talking office water cooler gossip, couples wandering in for a couple slices and a Krispie treat for dessert, families in town for the week to visit their kids, and a menagerie of others in suits, pajamas, torn jean shorts, or whatever they woke up in. Home Slice brings in all.

I’ve known Home Slice since I moved to Austin several years ago. One year, for my birthday party , we outsourced the cooking and ordered half a dozen of their large pizzas. Every year, I volunteer at the Home Slice Carnival O’ Pizza. If you fished for Chovie, I was there. When they close down on Tuesdays and open up for Story Department, I take up a spot near the back and listen. I’ve eaten pizza all over the city, but I keep coming back to Home Slice. And I realize that I keep returning for more than just that perfect slice.

For the past nine months, I’ve been working at Austin Bat Cave and putting together writing workshops. The work is important and meaningful, but I realized that it would quickly fall apart without the amazing support from the community that we receive. Whether it is volunteers setting aside hours in their day to teach poetry or post-apocalyptic fiction to middle schoolers or partner organizations opening up their offices so Austin Bat Cave has a venue, we receive a tremendous amount of help. We are fortunate that so many wonderful people believe in our mission and help towards its realization. And yet, so often that generosity toils in the background, unrecognized at large. Our base of support is wide and there are so many helping hands, but I’d be remiss if I let another day go by without thanking the incredible Home Slice crew for all they’ve done for us and our young writers.

This was the first year that I got to sit in on the meetings to plan the annual Pizza Carnival. Every week, I came early, ordered a slice, and headed to their offices. They welcomed me into the fold, and I was able to watch this beautiful event come together. Over the past decade, I’ve attended many meetings that bog down for whatever reason. These meetings, however, were such a joy to attend. Although I had just met everyone, I felt in the company of friends.

IMG_4277On the morning of the Carnival, booths and tents spring up within hours, but there’s so much that goes into the event. Permits need to be signed and entertainers booked. Signs are hand-painted and raffle prizes are acquired. The amount of work that goes into the carnival is dizzying. But soon enough, the carnival is up and running. The neighborhood comes out to celebrate one of its own—a fixture in the community and at our tables. We love you, Home Slice.

It’s funny how food transports you back in time to long-past memories and brings up old feelings. Home Slice brings me back to those dinners out with my brothers and parents. I know I’m not alone in how nostalgic and comforting pizza can be. Home Slice has created something special on South Congress. Day in and day out, we come back to you because you are a home and a family. We feel welcomed by your amazing staff and delicious pies. Not only that, but your kindness, generosity, and care for the community-at-large are unparalleled. Because of your tireless efforts and grace, we raised nearly eighteen thousand dollars for our writing workshops. I hope you feel our gratitude reflected in the stories that, because of you, our students can continue to tell.

There is so much to say, but until the next time I drop in, I just want to say, “Thanks, homies.”

 

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