In the dream, Lee and I are proper as well as dapper old ladies, well dressed in panty hose and pleated all the way around Pendleton skirts, walking along Mountain Blvd. in front of our Montclair neighborhood grocery store, Lucky’s. We walk slowly, but we are not bent over. What is so puzzling is that we are carrying a loaded old-fashioned brown shopping bag, the kind with the twisted brown handles. Each of us has one handle, the bag hanging down in the middle between us. We are smiling softly at each other, equally sharing the load. There is nothing more to the dream except that detailed vision. There never was. I can see in my memory the exact spot on the sidewalk where we stood, and indeed, it still exists, but five decades of progress has certainly changed the neighborhood.
Now it is fifty-three years later, and Lee does not exist, except in tender memory. Reflecting on our lifetimes together I can say that we always shared the load. Why was the dream so vivid at the time? For one thing, I was a bit of a prude from Washington State. I viewed carrying a shopping bag as vulgar, even as going to the pizza parlor without hat and gloves suggested impropriety. Quite honestly, I would not have been caught dead carrying a brown paper shopping bag. Likewise, it would have been totally out of character for Lee to allow me to tote any physical load; her superior muscles and pride would hardly allow it..
As a child, raised mostly by a loving single father, grocery shopping was my daily chore, for we had no car, and no refrigerator. After school I hopped on my blue Elgin bike and wheeled to Miller’s Little Store, four blocks away. It was my delight to choose and cook food for dinner each night. This chore I accomplished with glee, for I usually treated myself to a lime popsicle for the ride home, except when I chose orange.
Now days what was once a delight is a burden, boring and annoying. I procrastinate at shopping until the kitchen shelves are bare, putting off shopping at my neighborhood Safeway until I’m down to crackers and cheese, occasionally moldy. The clerks know me by name, usually calling for help with take-out even before I ask. My lovely new car sits in the carport gathering dust. I drive Lee’s old ’89 pickup to Safeway, and pick up Chinese at the same time. What? You think I’d park anywhere within blocks of those dim witted, myopic seniors who tote brown shopping bags and dress in old sweats?
Post script on last week’s blog: On seeing the new car for the first time last Sunday, Catherine said it was sexy. Then Sandy Delehanty from Loomis stayed with me last night. Her comment on seeing the addition in the carport: “Bonnie, it’s beautiful.” Then she added, “Jac in France would say it is a chic magnet.” Imagine! Now I am approaching 80 and have a new car that scares me to drive, and is judged by my friends variously as HOT, SEXY, BEAUTIFUL and a CHIC MAGNENT. What is my world coming to?