Grocery shopping often feels like a pointless task. I drive to the store, fill a cart until it's overflowing, pile the food into my car, drive home, and then honk the horn until the kids come out and unload the car. We put everything away into the refrigerator and cupboards, and then – about ten minutes later – all of that food has disappeared into the guts of ravenous teenagers, and the whole process needs to be repeated. In fact, most of the time, it's not even worth my effort to put the food into the cupboard. It's just easier to let the kids tear into the food while it's still piled on the counter.
This week, I thought of bringing my camera to the grocery store to take some cool photos of produce like other bloggers do. Then I thought about the conservative community I live in. Most people in the community already think I'm crazy – I am a feminist, a poet, a liberal – but I would be elevated to a new level of weird if they caught me snapping photos of fruit. I'd become She Came From a Such Nice Family but Now She Takes Photos in THE GROCERY STORE. I was willing to risk my reputation, making that sacrifice for my blog, but then it occurred to me that there's not enough natural light in the store for my point-and-shoot camera.
The one part of grocery shopping I do like is the chance to find out what is going on in the lives of the people in my community. Saturday, for instance, I ran into QuietMan in the parking lot. He and I have known each other since ninth grade. His kids are in school with my kids, and he recently went through a difficult divorce. He told me where his oldest would be going to college in the fall. "I'm going to have a kid in college, " he said to me, "That makes me feel old."
"We are old," I said to him, and he laughed.
In the produce section, I saw an older woman I've known for years; I went to elementary school with her daughter. She was checking cantaloupes to see which ones were ripe: apparently this process involves lifting up each piece of fruit and smelling it. She gave her dramatic news: she sold her house this week. I thought maybe she would feel sad about leaving the house where she raised her nine kids, but she seemed excited about moving into a small apartment with no maintenance. Her husband is dead, her kids are grown up, and she wants to do some traveling.
In the frozen food aisle, I heard someone call my name. It was Blonde Niece. With her were Red-haired Niece and her boyfriend, who had come in from Big City Like No Other for the weekend to see some of their friends graduate.
My nieces had their silky hair pulled back in pony tails. Both were wearing skimpy t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. "You two look alike today!" I exclaimed. With the same movement, they recoiled, looking at each other in horror. Apparently, no one likes to be told she looks like her sister, no matter how beautiful that sister is.
Red-haired Niece talked a bit about her job; she teaches at one of those progressive pre-schools where rich people send their kids. She said she's definitely coming home for my brother's wedding in July. "A family wedding! We haven't had one of those in a long time."
By the time I had finished talking to everyone I knew in the store, my grocery cart was full. I chatted with the kid at the checkout about the AP exam he would be taking on Monday, piled the cartons and bags into my car, and drove home with fruit, veggies, and news.
A picture of fruit, taken in the privacy of my own home. Because only crazy people take photos of fruit in public.