My favorite place as a kid was the supermarket. Not the park or playground, not a friend’s house or my beige-walled room, not the blanket-hut I’d constructed in my mother’s closet (close second), but the supermarket. So every time my parents announced they were off to buy groceries at this supermarket or that, I’d cry for them to wait up, throw on presentable clothes and then skip off to join them. Embark all glittery-eyed in our not-particularly-adventurous adventures to the supermarket.
I don’t know why I loved the supermarket so much. Maybe it was the space or clean tiles or the way everything was so cleanly arranged. Toys in the right-back. Christmas trees to the sharp right. Milk, eggs and essentials in the left-back, real-real-back because, as I learned years later, marketers used this as a clever ploy to get you to pass everything you didn’t need before reaching the things you did. Or maybe it was just the way the supermarket made me feel, like I, eight and skinny and bony and small, could expand with endless curiosity and familiarity.
Nowadays, though–and you saw this coming, you saw this coming–trips to the supermarket are tinged with Adulthood. Like managing a Budget while crossing things off a List and carrying out this Obligation on whatever regular basis I should. It’s less of an adventure and more of an obligation, a matter of need and convenience rather than inexplicable childish excitement. I suppose it was always supposed to be the former anyways. It’s a grocery store with household items, not the local amusement park.
But, I mean, it was still oddly magical for me. It was where I went with my parents. Where I quietly pined after toys (cough, sputter–Barbie Jammin’ Jeep Wrangler, Pink). Where I prepared myself to run into other fourth graders at any minute. It was where I splurged on back-to-school items and bathing suits I never wore and ice cream I finished too fast. It was where I felt like a kid, was happy as a kid: the supermarket. So every time I go home, I visit the supermarket again. And I can’t say it brings me the same expansive happiness, but I still get to revisit it for a while, the place and the feeling.