I don’t mind food shopping. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I actually kind of like it. In the face of the chaos of these past several months, I find myself almost craving the repetitious, rhythmic calm of walking through the aisles plucking the same items from the same shelves week after week. When I enter the market I find a cart with a cup holder; not for a cup or to hold a scanner, but to loop my reusable bags to avoid their wasting precious cart space. I then pull a Purell wipe from the dispenser (when it isn’t empty) and rub it along the handle in a (vain?) attempt to de-germ it and proceed towards the produce. It is an easy, predictable, mindless routine. But, this is my blog and therefore, you know that something is going to happen, right?
Well, it all started off normally which, in hindsight, should have been a warning to me given the way things tend to go down when I am around. I wiped the handle of the cup holder-less cart (was that an omen of some sort?), grabbed some bananas, baby carrots and fresh rolls and, after having pulled my number for the deli, took my position in the group of people awaiting fresh turkey and mortadella. Today was going to be easy – they were a scant three away from my number and it appeared that the deli was well staffed which is not something that one can assume at this particular store. Feeling the calm already.
I completed my order (turkey, maple honey ham, sharp cheddar, American, roast beef and, as a special treat this week, liverwurst. I know – gross. I have never actually tasted it, but Rich and Harrison are fans…) and began my departure out of the first section and rounded the corner to (what I expected to be) the “Sale Aisle” the items of which I am always a sucker for. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted instead by the organic/gluten-free/fancy stuff which, I know from years of experience, are supposed to reside in the very last aisle of the store. As I continued on what was supposed to be my weekly Zen experience, I will admit to darting my head around in the air (for what, I do not know) wondering if this was a joke, a hidden camera prank or, perhaps worst of all, a sign of things to come. Sonofabitch, it was.
From there on out the entirety of this enormous store had been completely revamped representing not a shadow of its former self. I felt perspiration erupting on my upper lip and on the back of my neck in recognition of my increasing understanding that my world was about to be turned upside down. Again. Is nothing sacred? Seriously…it is one thing to have your male born child come to you professing his need to be a girl, but taking the rug that is the supermarket experience right out from under a (increasingly fragile) woman’s feet is quite another. I took a deep breath and continued to make my way through the aisle, cursing the management that thought this was a good idea.
I will admit that I did start to think that I was crazy and that my reaction was unfounded but took great comfort each time I made eye contact with another customer who was equally exacerbated by the experience. It almost felt like more than I could bear which I know sounds unreasonable, but my beaten up (down?) psyche could not control how it felt.
The metaphor is so strong as to be funny. First, my family structure and everything that I had come to know as a mother for the first ten years of George/Jessie’s life was tossed in the air and has been in something of a free fall ever since. And now, the placement of my Cheerios and Spaghettios (don’t judge – my mother let me eat them and look how I turned out) in the market I have been patronizing for as many years is in a free fall of its own. Is this some form of collusion? What’s next…are they going to rearrange everything from the shelves at CVS, too? (Actually, now that I think of it they did that a couple of years back. Perhaps that is when it started in earnest; the plot to mess with my head to the point of no return.)
I am happy to report that I made it through my shopping and only had to loop back ten or eleven aisles to find something I had missed the first time. It wasn’t my fault…if they hadn’t moved it everything would be okay. Or would it?