Something Is Not So Fresh At The Supermarket

mint

I first notice her between the bananas and the piles of crisp Fuji apples. I catch a glimpse of her long, straight auburn hair and wonder if it’s her, but I need three English cucumbers, and I’m distracted by the bright green mint and beautiful flat-leaf parsley. How is everything still so fresh and abundant in this drought? It’s probably best that I don’t know, and I suppose not everything is from California.

I remember she told me how much she loves shopping in supermarkets in the U.S. Plentiful produce, clean floors, organized shelves.

I turn back toward the cart with my cucumbers and see she is no longer there. I breathe an almost inaudible sigh of relief and shake my head at myself.

This unsociable version of me is new and not all that welcome. Not because she is more reserved and quieter than usual, and not because she would rather be home alone than almost anywhere these days. This is unlike me, but I understand it can happen with age and circumstance and lots of children around all the time. Introspection and inward focus are good things. I’m okay with it. For now.

Antisocial me is unwelcome because she displays a reluctance to greet people she’s recently met. A reluctance, an almost-fear, to meet new people, and a strong desire to blend into the leaves of lettuce and kale for fear of being recognized. If only she were wearing green.

What has me worried and bewildered is that I may be perceived as rude and aloof. Or worse, snooty and unfriendly. The large crowd at the event the other night overwhelmed and frightened me and I stood alone, half-hidden behind a pillar in my brightly colored dress. Silently I prayed nobody would notice me. Nobody would notice me being rude and unfriendly, because how would they know that it was because I was terrified of saying hi to someone new? Terrified to introduce myself to a stranger and embark on a conversation, a connection. Even though it might turn out to be wonderful. The colorful, social butterfly that loves to flit amongst new flowers is suddenly fearful. The flowers look daunting and enormous, and what if she laughs too loud or not at all?

***

I met the woman with the long red hair just three days ago. She and her family are new to town, and she is lovely and friendly. They’ve been living abroad and she seems excited and happy to be back here, close to family and stores that are clean and convenient.

I don’t remember her name but how welcoming and friendly it would be if I walked up to her in the supermarket. Reintroduced myself and asked about her day, her kids. Connected over the brilliantly red strawberries or the boxes of Capri Sun. Five, seven minutes, at the most, of hello and how are you and a smile.

Of course, it’s possible she is feeling as antisocial as I am. Maybe she doesn’t want an almost stranger interrupting her solitude and thoughts. That is possible, but I can’t know for sure.

What I know is that I don’t want to say hello. And I’m disappointed in myself.

I wander around the store, tossing pasta and the organic two percent milk we are always running out of into the cart. Oh good, they have those new yogurt squeezables the kids have been asking for. Of course I forget the cream cheese, which is what I came to the supermarket for in the first place.

I find the shortest checkout line and unload my groceries. I look up from the cart and there she is again, in line right next to me. This is my chance! I can redeem myself, and be the warm, welcoming person I want to be. I take a breath. I open my mouth. The “hi” sticks in my throat and will go no further. It’s a good thing she’s not looking at me.

Suddenly I can’t wait to get home, to unpack all of this, and leave my rudeness in the cereal aisle where it belongs.

I will be back at the supermarket soon enough (probably tomorrow since I forgot the cream cheese). Fresh produce and a fresh start.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “It started in the line at the grocery store…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Dawn (this week’s sentence thinker-upper), and me here at Red Boots.

37 thoughts on “Something Is Not So Fresh At The Supermarket

  1. I know that you have no idea how beautiful this is and how much it resonates with the rest of us. Me, them, but all about me – this resonates with me. I am that mom, too. The reacher-outer, and the snob. The all of it, between.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t stop thinking about my rudeness, but I’m also trying to not be too hard on myself. It’s not the biggest deal, although a smile CAN make someone’s day… Thank you for helping me realize that sometimes you just don’t feel like it, and it’s okay (and I would never ever call you a snob, even if you walked right by me in the wine aisle!) xxx

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  2. I totally agree with you, and the two comments above me. Sometimes, and sometimes not. Glad I am not alone. You’re still as good as it gets, N. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicki, I’m with Kristi. You may not know how beautiful it is, but it’s totally gorgeous. And yes, I can relate to this completely. Some days I want to chat and catch up, and others I find myself annoyed at the five minutes I spent talking to someone I may not speak to again for five years. It’s that introvert/extrovert push/pull. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Mimi, yes! Was so thinking of that introvert/extrovert conversation. Lately I feel like a completely different person to even the two-year-ago-me. Thank you for your lovely words and support xx

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  4. This is actually my life you are describing lol, I’m sure it resonates with so many of us :). I’ve actually abandoned a cart in the supermarket before, just to avoid someone in the dairy aisle that I didn’t feel like chatting to ;). You will see that woman again sometime, maybe you’ll feel like saying hi. Maybe not. In the meantime, let yourself off the hook. I love every version of you and you should too 😘.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I need to hear THAT story in person!
      Thank you liefie. I laaik some versions but definitely not all. Love all of you though, through and through! xxx

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  5. I live i a small enough community that I see people I know at the grocery store all the time, and I have been the one pretending I don’t see someone, and I’ve been on the receiving end too. The grocery store should have privacy bubbles you can enter when you walk in, so you don’t have to talk to anyone and they don’t have to talk to you! Don’t be too hard on yourself

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can relate too – I think it is okay to not want to say hello. You can’t be “on” all the time. I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, I need more recharging time between social interactions. Or maybe I’m just more comfortable being alone, and I cherish that time.

    I love how you took such a seemingly small incident and created this beautiful piece of writing. I read it at 6:30 am this morning, and it was such a lovely start to my day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • DANA, WELCOME HOME! I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR TRIP!

      Ok, now that I’ve finished yelling… yes to needing more recharge, yes to feeling more comfortable being alone, yes to cherishing that time. But also, it’s a bewildering feeling for me. My mother used to joke about how I would get cabin fever if I were home for more than two hours a day. I’m not used to feeling this way, but I do appreciate it (except for the rudeness).

      And I wanted to write about anything but this, really I did. This felt just too personal at first… but there was no avoiding it. I’m glad you liked it.
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my gosh, so good to hear other people feel this way too when they see somebody they know at the store. I have my avoider days and non-avoider days, but more avoider ones these days it seems with me wishing I could be completely invisible as I run my errands. The privacy bubble comment above made me laugh out loud:) I feel bad about it sometimes too, wondering if I missed an opportunity somehow, but I’ve only got so much gab in me, and I know when my tank is nearing empty, it’s best to keep a low profile.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nicki: I love your writing and the images you can evoke with words. I can get inside your thoughts, even though I’ve not really shared your experiences. It helps me to understand how other people think and feel. A wonderful gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You really are a brilliant writer. Thanks for expressing what I’ve been feeling (including the surprise at feeling it) over the past decade. I had never put words to it and this was just so amazing to read. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep being you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the feeling about the feeling that has me so bewildered, Nancy! It is a relief to discover how not alone I am in all of this. Thank you for your sweet words always, chavera!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Another vote here for yes, I understand both sides of that dilemma. We humans crave interaction, but at the same time we sometimes just need to retreat to our cave and be alone there for a while. Hard to say what day anyone else is having and that makes it a challenge when two souls collide.
    This is so beautifully told. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s that “care to admit” part that leaves me sheepish too. But after writing this and reading everyone’s supportive comments, I think it’s okay. Right?

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  11. You’ve struck a chord with lots of us, even extroverts! Ashamed to say I’ve begged off from talking by inventing a cold or headache. Why can’t I just say “you’re a cool person but I don’t want to talk today, even for 5 minutes. See you next time!” I love your writing, Ms. Red Boots. Three English cucumbers. Organized shelves. Introspection…for now. So clear:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why are we so ashamed? As I’m reading how many people feel the same way, I’m starting to think there really is no shame in it, and it’s human nature. If someone said to me, “I’m not in the mood to talk,” I would totally get that!
      Thank you for your wonderful words, Cheri 🙂

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  12. Thank you for sharing what many of us feel as we enter the daunting task of exposing ourselves in an environment where the probability of running into people is likely. I am so thankful that I have a husband that enjoys going to the supermarket on the weekends. During the days I can nurture my inner child… My introvert . Marrying me, this was something he learned early on. Something I needed in order to be kind to myself. In order to be kind to him and be kind to our daughter .

    I know this need to isolate, comes from years and years of not making a peep. Of being silenced …. Of learning that “good girls” are not heard, and not seen unless it comes in a Laura Ashley dress and saddle-shoes.

    Thankfully, I don’t read to good and spent three years of high school in boarding school . This was where I hit the stage and never looked back. I realized I was given the gift of making people laugh. What discovery… what a mask to cover over the shy little redhead that was able to blend in with the wall …. Someone who was not an only child, but was then loneliest girl in the entire world.
    So high school and most of college was spent in extra-very mode. I was “on” I was hilarious and i would crawl back to my college dorm room panting with exhaustion . The only time I was taken seriously was when I was participating in class. I was studying to become an early childhood educator… And this was not a laughing matter. Sure I’d crack jokes to show my audience ( Wheeliock College a small private where one could get the nickname “crazy Julie” within the first three weeks of college . A over the top cartoon character …. Someone who was using a character trait … A gift… As a mask … To hide behind .

    As a grown up, i have learned to be “on” only when I feel like being on. I realize that unless I feel like talking … I won’t . And if people think I’m rude … Or cold or snobbish…..(panting)
    Well…
    fuck them!!!!!!
    😉
    Just kidding ….
    Recently, it has dawned on me, that not everybody’s world revolves around me and my feelings. Oh no she didn’t!
    That as powerful and disturbingly offensive as my bad mood can be to a group dynamic, that people have their own moods and tudes.

    If something comes up that is funny and I’m alone… I will continue with the playful senerio in my head. I don’t need an audience for that high . For approval … For worth .

    Ok… Thank you so much for your writing… It has brought me to words , and I never ever comment ….

    I’m too busy getting my intravert on. Being alone with myself …. And trying really really really hard to expose myself to my daughter to my husband…. To make a deep connection .

    Because I’ve grown up…. And I DO want to change ….and all those years and years of not making a peep. Of being silenced …. Of being that “good girl”…. That’s long long ago.

    My Laura Ashley dress and saddle-shoes have been exchanged for some way cooler duds.

    . Maybe one day I’ll look down and see a pair of red cowboy boots….

    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Nicki, I’m the same. I feel terrible purposely avoiding people only because it takes a lot of effort to strike a conversation. Even situations where it would be appropriate to greet them, like you said, a new neighbor or someone who just lost someone, I skirt around them. Terrible! But it’s more because of my discomfort with small talk or what to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not terrible Nina :). It’s human nature, and it’s okay. I didn’t feel so happy with myself that day, because usually I am comfortable with small talk or a potentially awkward conversation. But not that day. And that’s okay too, I’ve decided.
      Lovely to connect with you here!

      Like

  14. Welcome to my world (I know you already know this about me :). It’s really okay and not rude. I often stay in my car when picking up the older girls and text to tell them to come out to the car rather than brave the lobby and the other waiting parents. I think it’s better to be your authentic self at that moment than fake your way through the small talk. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think we all feel this way at times . . . like we don’t want to be a bother and like we don’t to be bothered. You describe it so well, the dichotomy between wanting to be friendly and wanted to retreat.

    Liked by 1 person

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