Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Grocery Store Paradox

Life is often times full of contradictions. At least my life is.

I am 19, living in my first apartment in Chicago, juggling two jobs, an internship, a sketch comedy show and two smal groups with my Church. I am quite young (I suppose I still fit the bill 'teen'), but some days I feel 100 years old. Maybe it's the product of a hard few years, maybe it's in my nature but I feel old. But not the silver haired, wise, earned old age I read about in books. I feel like a Mulberry fallen from the tree to soon only to bake and shrivel in the sun.

Dramatic imagery.

I don't really feel shriveled up all the time, but I do feel a sort of unfair ending of something fresh.
One minute I'll feel as tired and old as a fallen Mulberry—and the next I'll want to crawl up into my mom's lap, put my forehead against hers and tell her all about my day.
This particular contradiction (emotional, psychological or spiritual—I'm not sure), is extremely aggressive at grocery stores. Let me explain. I have become very familiar with the Grocery Store Paradox.

Two days after moving into my apartment I realized I needed food, or more correctly, I realized I needed to go buy more food. So I jumped on my bike and made the trek down to Jewel. I have since learned that Jewel is not the place to economically shop, but since this was my first grocery run bargin shopping wasn't even on my radar. I pulled up to Jewel sporting a fresh coat of sweat, locked my bike up and headed inside. When I cleared the two doorways and the automatic doors shut behind me, I froze.
I had no plan.
This place was huge.
What do people even buy here?!
I suddenly couldn't think of anything I eat or would like to eat in the future. My mind was flooded with memories of me as a small child trotting along behind my mom as she made her way up and down aisles with expert speed, checking items off her list as she threw them into the cart. Think Emily! What did she put into the cart?! My mind was blank.
I quickly realized I couldn't continue to stand in front of the entrance, so I stumbled my way up and down a few aisles. I found myself in the fresh produce section. This stuff was healthy...but how the heck do you eat it?!
My confidence and gusto swiftly vanished and I would give anything to be that little girl again innocently following my mommy up and down the aisles.
After 15 minutes of picking up boxes, reading the ingredients only to place them back on the shelf, the florescent lights became depressing. I gave up, leaving the store with a jar of peanut butter, whole grain bread, a bag of 'mixed greens' and low spirits.
I had set out on such an ordinary, non-threatening task and my old soul had cowered.

The next few grocery store trips were a bit more successful. I even remembered where a few of the essentials were (eggs, oatmeal, coffee). But the Grocery Store Paradox is still very present. Simultaneously feeling capable, independent, insecure and alone.
Wether I'm growing up too fast, or too slow I'm not sure. I don't think I'd like to do either.

I think I'll just grow deeper and forward.


  1. Little things that make you realize..."oh yeah...i'm an adult" (like the grocery) never stop popping up. So deeper and forward is a good plan.

  2. Ha. You'll get it all down. But you can still come home and sit on my lap. :)

    Then we can go grocery shopping together.