Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The joy of shopping alone

So I was just sitting down to work on a post for today, and Lindsay asked me to go out shopping and to make some photocopies. With Addison. Lindsay's really tired today, so I'm doing my best to work up some enthusiasm to help her out. Well, maybe I'm not doing my best; maybe it's about 70%. I agreed to go but my smile was pretty obviously forced. See, I'm usually the one who goes shopping with the kid, but I like to mentally prepare for it. I'm not one of those parents who just throws things together at the last minute. It's one of the things Lindsay loves most about me.

While Lindsay was gone with Addison on "vacation" before I flew out to meet her, I had the opportunity to go shopping alone. It was incredible.

It's amazing the little pleasures we so rarely get now that we took for granted years ago, before little grasping hands and scampering feet and tantrums about desperately needing the store display balloons (my daughter's tantrums, not mine, you jokers). During those couple of days my wife was away, I sauntered nostalgically along the aisles, moving in contemplative -- nay luxurious -- nay, decadent! slow motion as though kicking through the refreshing surf of a tropical island. I leaned on the cart handles, gliding slowly through the cereal aisle, enjoying the smell of the fresh coffee beans in their clear plastic dispensers. I gave produce the time and care it deserved as I lovingly performed bruise and color inspections.

This was better than a pie-in-the-sky paradise. It was better than harps or angel wings or drinks with little umbrellas. This was a real-world moment of zen, a peaceful drop of calm that allowed me to experience an everyday activity in all of its tiny unique variations. This was the miracle of mindfulness; this was heaven on earth. I stopped for a moment to admire the ingredients list on a bottle of salad dressing. When was the last time I really had the opportunity to look at ingredients, to appreciate their poetry? Mmm. Maltodextrin. Molasses. Sweet alliteration.

At rare moments like these, I walk dreamily, nostalgically, reaching out every once in a while to touch an item on the shelf like it's a friend I haven't seen in years. The aisles I normally skip? No reason to neglect them now. Hello, cat litter. Hello, Gerber baby food. Hello, Milano cookies that I can't buy because my daughter doesn't appreciate them but would gobble them up anyway in about 5 seconds.

On those special occasions when I'm out by myself shopping, sometimes my wife has to send people out looking for me. "I just sent you to get some more diapers," she says. "You don't get to go shopping anymore." A crushing blow, this. But she always relents. Because she loves me. She knows how I need this in my life.

But not tonight. Maybe next month. Right now I'm sitting in the lotus position to center myself for our looming daddy-daughter trip to the store.

Also, here's a picture of Addison on vacation, in which her hair spontaneously caught fire because it was so. freaking. hot. It still is. We're barely surviving in a fiery wasteland here in southern California.

This post was inspired by Ninja Mom's post about shopping here, in which I started ruminating in her comments section.