Friday, March 7, 2008

Close Encounters.....

I go to the grocery store about 4 times a week. I don't know why. I always think I've gotten everything I need, and that I won't need to go back until the following week, but I always run out of shallots. Or cilantro. Or some other key item that doesn't keep for more than a hot minute.

Two days ago, I went to the grocery store nearest my work. I got out of the car, and as I was walking towards the entrance, I passed a minivan, with two bumper stickers on it. Pepper's Pizza, and Schoolkids Records. I stopped short, my hands suddenly cold, and my heart beating in double time.

To understand the incongruity here, you would probably have to live here. To give you the Cliff Notes version, Pepper's Pizza is (and has been for many years) a hipster/freak magnet. The place you go to watch the pink haired pierced people toss pie, and you pretend you don't know they're doing coke in the bathroom while you're waiting for your dinner. And Schoolkids is the record store that expects you to be able to write for a music magazine before you walk in the door to purchase a record. They are the ubercoolest places among Chapel Hill hipster royalty, and to find these two stickers on a minivan? Very confusing.

And then I remembered. I'm a grown-up now too. Others of those bygone days still struggle, as I do, with finding an identity that encompasses both that which was, and that which is. And then I remembered again. I knew someone once who worked at both those places. And he broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces in the few weeks time I spent with him.

I knew it wasn't his minivan. For one thing, he hated the pizza place with a passion by the time he left. For another, he doesn't live in this town anymore, and would be unlikely to be shopping at my grocery store. But I walked into the store feeling stalked, hunted. I was overwhelmingly aware of the proximity of my past. Who would it be? Would it be someone I knew? Someone I wanted to see? Did my ass look huge in the pants I was wearing? Did I have on enough lipstick? Did I look like somebody's mom?

Whoever it was, I never saw them. But my heart rate didn't settle down to normal for about an hour.


Sugarmama said...

Holy crap, my friend! Does it affect you so much, the incongruity of past and present? I didn't know.

Suburban Gorgon said...

It does, sometimes more than others. I'm not sure why, but lately it seems to be worse.

Piece of Work said...

Oh, Pepper's! What I wouldn't do for some of their gazpacho right about now . ..