Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ode to the supermarket

A coworker recently recounted to me his family's weekend trip to the grocery store. He laughed because he knew it sounded ridiculous - that a trip to the grocery store as a whole family could be a highlight of a weekend. But strangely, I understood that and it had me reminiscing.

It made me think about how, as a child, I delighted in trips to the supermarket. I am now a real city girl who cannot ever imagine moving to the suburbs again unless I am forced to by unforeseen and unforgivable circumstances. But one of the things I truly and desperately miss is the suburban supermarket. Clean and expansive and so full of choices of the very things I live for. One-stop shopping, the good sales, the joy of stocking up on anything missing from the home kitchen. It just can't be found here.

Once, frustration came in the form of a slow crawl through the parking lot stalking departing shoppers for a close parking spot. Or dealing with the unwieldy carts - pulling one apart from the long line of nested mobile baskets or pushing one back to the parking lot corral. Now, frustration takes the form of hoping for weather good enough that I can abide a milelong walk each way to a decent store (Trader Joes or Whole Foods), where I won't be able to buy everything I need at a reasonable price or with good quality.

I grew up mostly with Foodtown and Shop Rite. Along the way, there were also Kings, Pathmarks and Grand Unions. Now - as for standard grocery stores- I'm stuck with the dirty Gristedes or the overpriced Food Emporium.

There is something about the wide, generally uncrowded aisles, the rows of fresh produce, the chilly, goosebumps-inducing freezer section, and the bakery giving off the tempting smell of doughy breads and warm cookies that I miss.

I can remember being a toddler excited at Sunday morning trips to Foodtown with my grandmother. They seemed so special. She would tuck me into the front of the shopping cart and push me happily through each section. People would comment on how cute I was and I knew she was proud. And for years - as I grew older- my grandma loved to imitate how excited I would get back then, swinging my legs and pointing at things. She would smile lovingly and say that I was always so happy. I could tell she loved those days and the memories. Now, I love my memories- of both the seemingly unremarkable supermarket and of my grandmother.

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