Popeye’s Pizza

Fond memories of an intense and collaborative homeschool project.

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by Meshach M.

In the fall of 2014, myself, and a group of nine other homeschool students created a fully operational pizza restaurant for three nights. We spent months gathering materials and planning the restaurant. Many of us had done it all twice before, but this time we were trying to make it bigger and more professional than the past. Finally the first day arrived.

We had been spending the last nine months preparing for this moment, the point to see if all of our hard work and dedication would pay off, but we weren’t waiting. There were a hundred things to do, a hundred people to call. We had started work that day at 1:00, the restaurant opened at 4:00. We didn’t have nearly enough time to get everything done, but that had always been the case. There had always been things we had to let go of. Our dreams and desires would always and had always, exceeded the limitations of what we could do, but that was part of the magic of it all. To push the boundaries of what we could accomplish to encompass more of the fantasy that was the power of the project.

There was dough everywhere, vegetables were cut and primed. Toppings were chopped in dishes for us to use immediately and reserves were stored in coolers under the table. The smell of it, pizza baking and sauce boiling was nearly overwhelming. The conclusion of this journey felt false, as if reality was not really real. We had been testing pizzas for days and now it was the day to present. I knew there were things that had not been perfected; not everything was exactly how I thought it would be best, but it was not like I had much say at that point. Tensions had been running in high the past weeks, not open aggression, but we were all a bit irritated with each other, yet we were closer than ever before.

Suddenly the restaurant started, no one could really say the exact moment, but customers were suddenly there. I didn’t feel stressed, not in that moment, I knew that if we had made it this far we could make it through. We had done it all before, most of us, and this year wouldn’t be any different. Yet, something had changed, we were all older and we knew what to do.

The hours of the actual restaurant passed as a blur, we had tasks and knew what we needed to do so we did them. We worked together, all ten of us. We got angry, we yelled, we laughed and at the end we all said goodnight. The ending was like the beginning: nearly non-existent.

The project ultimately wasn’t about creating a restaurant; it was about learning something together. We didn’t do it for the money; we did it for something greater, the power to create. I believe the ability to create is something much more profound than the creation itself, and I think when I look back on this in twenty years I will not remember the restaurant nearly as much as I remember the fantastic people who made it a reality.