April 24, 2016 § Leave a comment



I’ll admit it: sometimes this past year, I’ve gone into Trader Joe’s just to have a casual conversation with a stranger. The check outs are named for streets around here, and I can imagine it’s a real microcosm of this university town. It never fails, by the way—if you make eye contact with the beardy guy working the register, you’ll hear about meditation tips, somebody’s sister who moved to North Carolina, the virtues of baby kale. That kind of recognition of life’s ups and downs that is part and parcel of grocery shopping in the south is rare around here in the public world, and it’s enough to push me toward TJ’s– especially on cold rainy Sunday nights when the upcoming week seems a chore. I’ve often wondered what they do in the back of the store besides stocking, how they keep that glow year-round. They’re always so damn happy!

But  it’s finally real spring in the north. Dogwoods and everything. Redbuds! Maybe the check out guys just spent the afternoon outside, contemplating the end of the semester, the upcoming summer so far from the frozen foods aisle, floating in some green-brown lake near a cabin, or on an aqua and sand beach in California. Maybe they’re thinking of moving again, like me. Not across the country, just across town, but still, to a new and better settling place. Marking a spot for the next few years can bring a sort of calm and steadiness that might make someone think you’re high.

Sure, I know what I have ahead of me before I really get that Trader Joe’s happy: gathering my life full of stuff and picking it up, the whole weight of it, dragging it along a full mile or so, even if my feet and hands blister with the constant rubbing of skin against raw rope. But I’m ready. I might even get a few live plants from the vegetable aisle, put down at least annual roots.

By the time I leave Trader Joe’s this time, it’s not even dark. The days are longer and the sun is finishing its set across the parking lot in warm oranges and purples. Before I drive home, I sit for a minute in my car with the radio on, tuned to the blues show I’ve come to set my weekend clock by. May’s around the corner; summer stretches out in my imagination. And you wouldn’t believe the health benefits of baby kale.


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