‍‍Just another day at the grocery store...

As I near the automatic sliding doors, my heart starts to beat faster. In my head I am repeating the reason I am there. I need to buy my “regular” foods (yes, I eat the same thing every day) because it is supposed to start snowing soon. I need to get in and get out. I have a picture list in my head of what to get. The temp outside is near 34 degrees and it is wet. Soon it will be freezing and the roads will be tricky. “Stay focused,” I tell myself as the sliding doors whoosh loudly and I step through them into the store.

Whenever I enter a store, it is a huge shock to my systems. I think this can be likened to entering a swimming pool. The “energies” of the store suck me in just as the water does in a pool and my whole body sort of goes into shock for a moment. My breath stops and my heart races as I pause just inside the door to get acclimated. The overhead lights and the freezers are humming, the carts are squeaking, kids are chirping or screaming and people are talking. All the sounds join each other and mix with the very loud humming of all the machines and the lights. The air is alive with a humming mixture of sound so loud that it has a thickness or feel to it (like fog or water).

My eyes are assaulted by the bright lights. Sometimes they burn my eyes so badly that they water a bit and I have to wipe my tears. Nothing makes sense visually for awhile. I just see pieces of stuff but nothing resembles anything. I work to build it and to take it all in. I am confused and I am feeling the water. I finally breathe and the smells come rushing at me. Again I taste and feel the textures of the perfumes, the fruits, the foods at the deli. I stand there and allow my body to acclimate. This process happens every time I enter a room, depending on the level of stuff in that room, and actually happens in only a few short moments usually.

Once I feel “safe” in the environment, I can start the task of getting my things. I shop at the same store as much as possible to make things go more quickly. Tonight, I realize that I am feeling pretty okay. I do not need to use my earplugs and I am visually processing pretty quickly. I think to myself that it would be a good night for me to get that pair of PJ bottoms that I have been needing for a long while but have been too tired to get. So I add that to my list. With little trouble, I manage to pick up the “normal” staples for my survival in case I get snowed in for a few days. So I go off to check out the clothing section.

On the way, I pass by the furniture. (Yes, my stores MUST have it all under one roof. LOL!) I stop to stare at the art that is offered and the textures of the pictures. I look at the tables and chairs and the beds. And of course there are blankets and pillows and all manners of stuff all around the furniture. I like some of the stuff but feel paralyzed when I start to think about putting any of it together. I think back through my life and realize that this is one of those things I have NEVER been able to do. My various partners/mates were always the ones to do the furniture, towel and sheet shopping. I just could never do it. It isn’t that I don't like stuff, but I do not know how to pick out anything or put it together. After some time, I move slowly through the office supplies and into the ladies' clothing section.

I find the PJ section pretty quickly and try to find some plain black, soft pants. Nothing is there but they do have some that are pretty cheap and soft, so I make a mental note of that and decide to look in other sections. I go to the athletic section to see if they have a pair of sweats that might work. There, I pretty quickly get overwhelmed after a few racks do not have anything that jumps out at me for under $50. (Have I mentioned ever how ridiculously cheap I can be?) Next stop is the men’s section and finally the little boys' (I can wear size 14-16 in boys just fine). In both sections I get distracted. In the men’s section, I spend time touching all the fabrics in the t-shirt section and reading all the tees. In the boys' section, I play with all the funny hats and look at the cool gloves and forget to look for PJs at all, in fact. I find myself in the aisle completely forgetting what I am doing. Then I remember that I need PJs. But by then I am too tired to look anymore, so I head back to the women’s section to get something from that rack, as it is the one I actually can remember.

During this time, a few salespeople have the nerve to talk to me. Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE to be talked to by strangers? I will never understand that. It is so rude to me. If I need something, I will find them. They should leave me alone. I say nothing and ignore them or I give them a glance to leave me alone. I am still without my earplugs and doing pretty well. I pass the bras and panties and frown. I really need to restock these one day, but I am tired so not today. Back at the ladies' section, I find a pair of soft PJ bottoms that are warm and will work just fine. They are under 10 bucks. I pause, reflecting once more on my options. They are not solid black but I think I can deal with that. Score! Decision made! They go in my basket and I go victoriously to pay. I check out and leave the loud humming, the rude salespeople, the squeaky carts, the people, the too-bright lights and all the smells, and go into the fresh, cold air. It feels good and I breathe a sigh of relief. I look up and see that the snow has started lightly falling. I look at my clock.

Two freaking hours are gone.