Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Through the sliding doors

When he comes with me it's okay.  Doable.  Maybe even a little fun.

It's like an adventure we're on together and, as is the case with many of our adventures, there are moments of intense frustration and ones of sheer joy.

But sometimes one must adventure alone.

It seems like a treat, really.  Especially without the kids.  And so I hop in the driver's seat like a free woman, forging down the spacious roads with the wind in my hair and three empty car seats behind me.

Pulling my car easily between two, wide lines I look around at all the empty spots and wonder if it's ever been ever full.  I imagine not.

People smile at me as they step into and out of their cars, and I smile back, because that's what you do here.  When I get to the front the doors slide open smoothly before me and I walk through quickly, because walking quickly is also what you do here.

My eyes go wide almost immediately.  It's not my first time, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore.  I look around like a small child in a large, clean, well-organized candy store.

The produce feels a bit familiar, so I start there.  The apples are flawless red, each one perfectly round.  They're organized in cute wicker baskets, with hay underneath, and appear to have been plucked straight from the tree.  I browse the bananas from force of habit.  They're neither green nor brown, only a uniform, pale yellow across the whole, excessively long row.  The smell is not what I'm used to, the skins more thick and rubbery than I remember.

It's not as familiar as I hoped.  But I'm not looking for produce anyhow, so I move on.

I browse the organic section, picking up fruit leathers and smiling.  Placing them back in their designated spots.  I don't know what I want, per se, but I like to know it's all here if I want it.  In one place.  Right under my nose.

The next aisle, apparently, is water bottles.  It goes on forever, it seems.  Endless plastic bottles in all sizes, shapes and colors.  By the case, of course.

I stumble around the corner and freeze in my tracks.  I can almost hear faint angelic music in the background and I literally step back to take it all in.  I forgot so many Oreos could exist in one place.  I forgot about all the flavors.  I forgot about double stuffed and mint and peanut butter and it feels impossible to choose.

I want to try them all, but just one of each.  It seems you can't buy just one, though.  It's fifty or nothing, and so I choose nothing and pull myself away.  Also, now that they're right here in front of me, I'm not much in the mood.

The Oreos are just a small taste of the cookies and snacks, but I tunnel-vision my way to the meat.  We need ribs so I go to the butcher and tell him.  We stare at each other for a minute and I wonder if we're speaking the same language.  I think I'd feel more comfortable if we weren't.

"Over there," he says and points to a large refrigerated case behind me.

"Those are the fresh ribs?"  I ask and he smiles and assures me, yes, those are the fresh ones.

I find them rather quickly and run my hands over the plastic packaging.  They're clearly frozen.  But the bag states, Previously Frozen, which I guess counts as fresh, and is somehow different than the currently frozen meat just one case over.

At this point someone brushes my shoulder and I realize I am literally spinning in circles.  All I want is a fresh rack of ribs, but I walk away instead with nothing.  I'm feeling overwhelmed, so I make my way back through the frozen section, because what can be overwhelming about ice cream?


Everything is overwhelming about ice cream.  The flavors are overwhelming.  The varieties are overwhelming.  The sheer number is overwhelming.  I think I might like an ice cream bar, since I'm out without the kids and all, but it seems you can't get less than ten and I don't want ten ice cream bars.  I want one freaking ice cream bar.

In the middle of the freezer section is a rack of freezer bags.  I think I need all of them.  I think I've never seen anything more beautiful than those freezer bags.  But again I can't pick, so I walk away.

I need to focus.  I need to remember what it is I came for.

Ah!  Finally!  Baking needs.  I scan the aisle and find it.  It's not what I thought it was.  It's certainly not what I buy in Hungary.  But it's there in plain English, so I pick it up and beeline to the checkout.

Uncle Sam is in the checkout before me.  Literally.  Hat and everything.  I'm not sure why, but it feels like a fitting end to this experience.  

 When I finally make it to the car I shut the door tight and take a deep breath.

I look at the bag in my hand and laugh.

Mission accomplished.

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