Monday, September 04, 2017

On nearly bursting into tears at the meat counter

I thought I had found a grocery store I could live with. It had a lot of the things I was used to buying, but my grocery bill was pretty high, and it just never felt comfortable. Plus it was huge. Really huge. I don't normally like huge. A friend had mentioned another grocery store a little farther away, so I decided to try it.

I get there, and heading to the door it just feels different. And then I walk in, and there is music playing in a song that is not in English, a woman walks by wearing a sari, the checker is wearing a hijab, and the deli clerks say the number they are waiting on in Spanish first and then English. It felt like home, and I was so happy.

I wander around the aisles, and while the details of this store are a little different from my old one (more Spanish/Mexian foods, fewer Asian/Middle Eastern), it is essentially the same. When you shop for a long time (like 11 years long) at a store catering to a diverse immigrant community, you get used to the brands they sell. You often decide you like them better than the brands you can buy at the bigger, more mainstream stores. And when the bigger, more mainstream stores are all you can find to shop in, you realize that you are missing what has become to feel normal. Seeing my usual brand of yogurt, which we hadn't had in over two months made me want to jump up and down.

But it was the meat case that really clinched my future relationship with this new store. It was those pigs' heads wrapped up in plastic wrap. They were the reason why I found a lump in my throat. It wasn't because I felt sorry for the pigs... fat lot of good that would do any of them now. It wasn't even because I had been yearning to buy one, and now my dreams were fulfilled. (Though I did buy a plastic wrapped goat's head once.) No, it was because I had found a store where I could be comfortable shopping again. It was one thing that now didn't need to be changed all that significantly in my life. A little piece of my old life had suddenly seemed to appear in my new life, and that made me very, very happy.

Now some of you are probably a little baffled at my elation over finding a grocery store that I like; at the emotional attachment I feel towards where I shop. If you figure that I spend at least one hour a week grocery shopping, that's at least fifty-two hours spent in the same place every year. I shopped at my old grocery store for at least 11 years, so that makes at least 572 hours of my life spent in that one place. I knew some of the checker's names, and a few of the clerks who had watched my pregnancy with the girls, and then saw me come in with the babies, would always ask how the twins were doing. So there is the personal connection. Then there is the actually good produce and meat at decent prices. I can now go back to feeding my family without breaking the bank. Finally, I enjoy meeting and interacting with a diverse group of people. Life can be dull when everyone is the same. We moved from an area of high diversity to an area of high sameness, and I like to move out of that bubble when I can.

I'm not a big fan of change, and it is a relief to have something that doesn't need to be changed all that much.

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