Today I had to go to the grocery store.
These days that task is as mundane as it sounds.
Except for that the grocery store is never mundane, especially if you shop at Walmart as I often do. Walmart embodies the whole of the broken state of humanity. It is where it all hangs out — literally. It is the state fair and the airport all in one place. Every person pushing a cart has some wild crazy Pulitzer Prize winning tragic story. And I can see that, I can smell it and that lights some sort of fire in me, those stories that hide in plain sight.
And that’s why I love the grocery store.
Even with all that lurid carnival-style enticement, the store is not the same as it was when I had a grocery store buddy, a chubby fisted helper who was thrilled and delighted with all the exotic marvels that the grocery store offers.
I thought of that today as I was pushing my cart towards the checkout. Right in the middle of the St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts there was a man going up, up, up on a vertical lift. He was retrieving a helium balloon from the ceiling. Did his mother never tell him that if he just waits long enough it will come down?
Had my little boyfriend been with me, even today, we would have stopped and watched and marveled at the machine and it’s scissor-like arm reaching for the ceiling. We would lie with all sincerity about how we wish we could ride the vertical lift. Except that we would be too scared. And maybe we would impulsively buy a balloon when we got to the checkout and promise not to let it go.
But today, there were no brave wishes or balloons or grocery store buddy, just a cart full of mundane to get through the checkout.
As I waited my turn in the checkout line, I thought about how much I enjoyed going to the grocery store with Sean and how I miss him hanging off the end of the cart and his running observations and commentary.
And then I caught myself. Surely that is not really true, surely there were days when I just wanted to go, get groceries and go home — and not have to stop and watch a man on a vertical lift or see how much two apples weighed or see if they had any cookie samples for good boys.
Has the same time that heals all wounds also rewritten the tedious and mundane days of my motherhood into a more lovely narrative?
But if so, if going to the store with a little boy was a chore and a pain, I honestly don’t remember it that way.
And so I should like to do it all over again.