Grocery Store

My friend came to visit me and Edith for Thanksgiving and she offered to cook us a feast, which meant going to the grocery store. I had not ever taken Edith into a store, but I knew I would have to start eventually, and I didn’t think I could leave my friend to spend all day grocery shopping by herself in addition to traveling all this way and cooking, so off we went!

In retrospect, picking the most crowded shopping day of the year was probably not the best way to ease us into things. But it was fun for me to go to the store — any outing is exciting for me these days. Edith wasn’t that impressed by the store. She’s going through a clingy phase and I think it was too much to take in anyhow. She just wanted to stare at my face and clutch at my shirt and pull my mask off and beg to be picked up.

But I had lots to look at. People are so weird! There are so many different types! I don’t much like people, but they do interest me, at least at a distance. I like to look at their purchases and think about their lives. I saw an older lady with only one of those almond-covered cheeseballs and a single slim bottle of white wine in her cart, looking pissed. I saw two punk-rock looking young guys, one with a mask and one without, and the one without was monologuing very enthusiastically at the masked one who looked tired and bored. Cousins? Friends who’ve grown apart? I saw a bizarre family with a fully 10-year-old girl sitting hunched over in the basket of their cart, filling most of it, her face hidden in her knees and their purchases stacked up all around her.

Then I had an anxiety attack and Edith and I had to go wait in the car.

I kept going back and forth over whether it was ok to have Edith in there at all. I mean, case counts are well down even though school has gone back, I’m not in a hot spot, people have calmed down a lot, and life has sort of moved on, -ish, and a lot of other people had their babies in there — I saw two newborns. But also, it was a packed store, and we’re still in a pandemic! This was nuts, I was nuts! I am the worst mother alive! Also, anyone could open fire at any second! Or there could be a stampede!

My friend was having her own small nightmare. I have gotten used to the warehouse-like stores in Texas, but she is from LA and was overwhelmed by the massive spread and the crowds. She looked like I did the first and only time I entered a Costco.

I felt badly about bailing, but everything was chill in the car. Edith cuddled in my lap for a full hour happy as a clam, and then she had a complete meltdown that lasted the rest of the day.

Oh, well. We’ll try again in five years.

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