I have a terrible habit of going into the grocery store knowing for certain that I only need two, maybe three, things, and thereby eschewing the baskets that sit at the front in a stack. Never mind the fact that 100 percent of the time that I enter a store in search of almost nothing, I emerge with at least four items. Often, if I am in a wandering mood, the count can go so high as to prohibit my using the express lane, which at this point I desperately need for the respite that is placing a teetering heirloom tomato and a pint of ice cream that I am holding with one freezing finger on the belt.
When I wasn’t working, I would grocery shop during the day, but these days my hubs and I often stop in the store in the evening while we are out. I have gotten into the habit of breezing on through the doors while he knowingly goes and gets a basket. He used to ask me if we needed a basket, and invariably, I stammered around and landed on no, probably not. And he used to believe me. But here we are, more than a decade into this experiment that is our marriage, and the transaction is now most often a silent one, unless I bother to laugh and call after him that I really don’t need a basket, really. It’s just going to be milk. While at the 7 year mark this might have thrown him, caused him to also eschew the basket as well, he, the ever-seasoned companion that he is, turns a deaf ear to my hollers across the double-doored gateway of the grocery store and proceeds determinedly toward the basket that there is no doubt we need. I then remark somewhere about halfway through the shopping that the basket is nice, but we probably could have carried it all. He smirks and walks down the aisle, one hand holding a basket so full that the green onions are teetering on top and in the other hand he has a gallon of milk.
Today was no different. I was going to stop by the store and grab some ice cream and a couple of potatoes and maybe a tomato. As I slipped there the door, I didn’t see a stack of baskets, but I didn’t mind. I knew that there was no way I’d have trouble carrying some potatoes and ice cream. And a tomato and some orange juice and some paper towels and a pack of sausage and then my bag of potatoes hit the deck. I embarrassingly set the tomato down in the refrigerated meat section while I tried to carefully recover the bag and the one errant potato that had rolled across the floor.
I quickly glanced at the man standing three feet away watching me as I scooped everything back up in my arms, undeterred and heading to shop for bread that somewhere between produce and dairy, I remembered we needed. The stranger kindly turned to me and asked, “Would you like my basket?” as he lifted one tiny bag of produce out of his basket. “No, no thanks. I’m fine,” I said, the delusion of my ability to carry a weeks worth of groceries in my two arms shined. He pushed the basket toward me and insisted that he was almost done shopping, his face kind and slightly amused. I smiled and thanked him and made some joke about how he was having an economical trip to the store and how I always think I am only going to pick up one thing. He laughed, and I loaded the basket and walked away. Armed with a basket I soon loaded to the brim, I proceeded to buy toothpaste and popsicles and pork rinds and then flirting with the idea of purchasing bread, I decided that I am apparently not cleared to shop alone. Thank you kind man with the basket for rescuing the tomato I was carrying from meeting a grim demise splattered on the grocery store floor.
I know it is just a grocery store, and thanks to the memes that populate my Facebook feed, I know that I am not alone in this idiosyncrasy. In all honesty, I don’t know why here in my late thirties, I persist in such an obviously insanely optimistic (nay futile) behavior.
I like to think it is because I am carefree. Because I truly believe that I only need one thing. Because I am that person that can run in and out of the store in three minutes.
But I am not. I am a wanderer, a browser, a gatherer.
Perhaps my behavior is because I do not really know myself.
And maybe it would behoove me to take a moment and sit with who I really am.
A girl with her arms full, in need of a basket, every single time.
Someday I will admit that I cannot carry all the groceries, and even if I can, I don’t need to.
Perhaps on that same day I will admit that I cannot do everything in my life, and maybe I don’t need to do that either.
Perhaps I will take a moment to pause and find a basket because it will make the next few minutes easier. Because it will let me hold more. Because that little bit of time spent in procuring something to carry will make my life more full.
Perhaps when I am wise enough to remember that my items in a grocery store pile up unexpectedly, I will be wise enough to understand that life throws things at you in ways and in moments that you cannot anticipate. That sometimes your hands are too small to hold onto all of the hurt and even the love. That you can ask for help. That you can seek out others to lend you a hand.
That you are enough, but that does not mean that you have to carry it all.