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On  Friday I had pizza for lunch.

I remember the very first pizza slice I ever bought. I was in my eldest brother's room for some reason, probably snooping around – I was somewhere between eight and twelve years old at the time – when I saw an odd, triangular paper plate lying discarded. "Super Slice", it said. "Pizza Pizza". It was ENORMOUS and I wanted one desperately. Keep in mind that I was ten, on average, and everything looks bigger when you're kid-sized. Also, this was around 1985, so it probably really was a lot larger than they are now.

I knew where the Pizza Pizza was: in the big mall right across the street from my apartment building, where I could see the entrance right off the parking lot. So somehow I put together some money, made it over there, and squeaked out "Super Slice please" to the person behind the counter. (I was a polite kid, but did have a very high-pitched voice.) And a few minutes later, there it was, my very first pizza slice.

It was huge. It was disgusting. Who puts green peppers on a pizza?

That Pizza Pizza was also the closest to my high school, so it became a regular source of cheap sustenance for me. They'd automatically put a slice in the oven when I came through the door – pepperoni, I do learn from my mistakes – and if my friend Ted was looking for me they could tell him whether or not I'd been in yet that day.

It's not great pizza, but even bad pizza is still pizza, and for a broke teenager that counts for a lot. And sometimes it counts for something as an adult, too. When Bill visited my new neighbourhood in Toronto I took him to the Pizza Pizza where Scott hung out with his friends.

The famous discount store that was across from that Pizza Pizza where Scott, Bill, and I all ate, is gone – replaced by towers that I can see from my balcony as I type this. But the pizza pizza is still there. I remember that quick lunch fondly every time I walk past it. It's one of those small connections that makes up my erratic experience of my past.

The mall across the street from that old apartment building, where I lived for the first sixteen years of my life, the longest I've lived in one place, is gone. It's been replaced by a surreal outdoor shopping experience that's some interpretation of Toronto's expensive downtown shopping district, as imagined by people who had only ever seen tony suburban malls. (I can see that downtown shopping district if I look the other direction from my balcony.) Now it's "The Shops at Don Mills", which sounds pretentious and puts the stores first, because they're what's important, instead of "the Don Mills Centre", which nominally put the community first. (Back then 'Shopping' was merely implied.) Which makes sense, since we've gone from hosting dry cleaners, book stores, and places that the community actually needed, to block-sized restaurants and fashion chains with names that sound like university courses or books from the Bible.

With the old mall gone the prominent Pizza Pizza where I bought my first slice went with it, but it's been replaced by a new location that's hidden in a backlot corner of The Shops, out of sight and as far from my old high school as they could make it. It's almost at the hill beside the old post office hub, where I'd go with my brothers to scavenge those big elastic bands that flew really well. The post office is gone, of course, as is the bingo hall on the south side of the complex. We'd search its parking lot for the little translucent plastic disks that the bingo players would use to mark their cards – this must have predated the invention of daubers. We could use them instead of dimes in the gumball machines at the Dominion. That grocery store is still there, though under a new name, but the post office and bingo hall are being replaced by condos.

My eldest brother is gone now, too.

He hasn't been replaced by anything.

So I had pizza for lunch. It's an unremarkable photo.

I was sitting in the "Town Square" of this surreal outdoor shopping experience, lucky to get a wire-mesh picnic table with an umbrella for shade on a hot day, placed on worn heat-island astroturf, near a fountain that was similar-but-not-really to the one that used to be in the centre of the mall, with the few scrawny trees in sight either dead or dying. The old mall had huge, glorious trees. I heard they were imported from Florida, and were a special type that wouldn't drop their leaves in the autumn. I remember them being brought in on trucks when the mall was first being covered – because originally, like now, it was open-air. The renovation to enclose it was a huge deal, bringing the march of progress and air-conditioning.

I was four years old when that happened. Maybe five.

It's funny how much of our past we leave behind, and how much we still carry.

My sense of self is sporadic. I have a poor memory for my own life, no coherent personal history that grounds me, but still, all that's still there. I don't know how much it influences me, or how much gravitational pull I feel from the parts that I can't revisit. And I don't even know how much that matters.