| LifeTakes |

Shopping Trip Home

I missed the fact that everyone there knew me and smiled as I passed. It was hard to be just another nameless shopper in the grocery

There were 13 items on my shopping list, and I couldn’t find any of them. Yet I had 26 items in my cart. But they were all at good prices. At least so I thought.

I was also hungry. I never did end up touching those whole wheat chocolate crackers, but they looked good at the time.

It was my first shopping trip as a relocated newlywed in the big city of Brooklyn, and I stumbled around the grocery trying to find the items on my list without bumping into too many people.

As I walked through the aisles, trying to locate the dry cereal and wondering why each store keeps it in a different place, I began to feel homesick. I missed the big grocery store in Monsey. I missed the parking lot with ample parking spaces outside and the way I knew what I’d find in each aisle.

Mostly, I missed the fact that everyone there knew me and smiled as I passed. It was hard to be just another nameless shopper in the grocery. Trying to keep these thoughts at bay, I finished with the cereal aisle and headed to the freezer section.

I was looking through different sized frozen pizzas when my cell phone rang. I threw a pizza in the cart and answered the phone. It was my mother, calling to make sure we were coming for Shabbos. I confirmed, looking forward to seeing my parents and my old block, and even the groceries from my old grocery store. Somewhat shyly I shared this with my mother and she laughed. “You’ll get used to it. It’s only a matter of time.” I hoped she was right. In the meantime, I still had to search for apple juice. I hung up and turned my focus back to my groceries.

By now it was getting late, and I rushed to the pan section. I stood, looking at the stacks of silver tins, trying to find the type I needed. I took a few loaf pans, some rectangular ones, and then looked for the round ones. But they didn’t have the regular ones. I looked through each stack of round pans — different diameters and depths, but I was disappointed. “Do you have any other types?” I asked the salesman. He looked at me strangely and gestured toward the various stacks. “Take your pick, lady.” I wasn’t sure why, but I didn’t want those.

And then I realized what the problem was. It wasn’t that the store didn’t have regular round pans. It was that they didn’t have my regular round pans — the ones my mother used.

There are some things from childhood that are hard to let go of. I never thought that round pans would be one of them. But to me, those pans are more than disposable convenience. They are warm suppers on a cold winter night. They are a hardworking woman waking up early to prepare food for her family before leaving to work. They are love, my mother’s love.

I may have been married and living in Flatbush, stumbling around the grocery and learning how to parallel park. I may have been feeling homesick and lonely as I tried to find my way in a new place. But part of me was still sitting in my mother’s kitchen contentedly scooping baked ziti out of round pans. The regular ones.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 299)

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