I had my shopping list but left my pen in the car so I kept looping back to the bulk bins to use the pen there to cross things off the list as I got them. I thought about how my sexist uncle would probably comment on my weight when he came over for dinner the next day and I was testing out comebacks in my head: “Just trying to get as fat as you!”
It’s the pricier market of course but when I go there it somehow comforts me into thinking that I’m not totally off the grid of culture, which, as I write that, is disgusting I know. At least the color scheme doesn’t scream Hospital like Publix.
When I’m at my parents’ for more than a few days I start to feel like I’m in an aquarium, on both sides of the glass. I watch myself swim in circles. It’s as if I’ve never done anything with my life, am no one. What’s next What’s next What’s next. Repeatedly racing back to the hazelnuts to use the fucking pen only underscored the feeling. I only had an hour and told myself to hurry up but the water, the water is so thick. It takes so long just to turn my head.
I was in the baking aisle and, at first, just noticed her as this very petite, slim and eager shopper. She was with an older guy who I assumed was her dad. And then, as I cantilevered my head to the side, it dawned on me who she was. Like sonar coming from miles away:
I jumped from one aquarium of unreality to another, where this person, who I’d watched grow up on TV, was inexplicably concerned with the contemporary banality of Christmas dinner in this godforsaken place. (The very definition of it really. There may be churches all over but is there anywhere more uncompassionate, unChristian or unholy as Florida?)
She didn’t look at me but she knew she’d been recognized. She seemed to relish it. Her dad, too, I think? I wanted to say something but my mouth was full of thick, opiating seaweed. Mostly I just wanted to ask Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy are you here? I tried not to make it too obvious but I remembered the scene where she’s running down the hall away from Don Draper and she trips and all of the other main “female leads” come out of their offices and it’s this generational, pseudo-feminist symbolism of Look how we all struggle. It was effective. She’s so young, still! It seemed impossible to me that anyone younger than she is now could be self-aware enough to act, let alone remember to bring a pen for her own list, which she did, and she crossed things off gleefully, purposefully. “Mom will kill us if we….” she was saying, but with a real heavy reading: “Mom will kill us…” That downward turn at the end of her sentences that ends in a fry, which was always a tipoff to me that she wasn’t really from that other time. I feel like vocal fry is more modern than that.
I ran into her again in another aisle, by accident or something. I’m not following you, I wanted to say, It’s just that the tank is only so big. Saw her yet again as I was loading the trunk of the car. I slowed down to see what kind of car they had. She was texting as she walked. Black skinny jeans, black flannel plaid shirt (in this weather), sun streaked hair. Very L.A.