shopping and moaning

This week I obsessed about how none of the bundled-up Ukrainians seem to wear gloves. I scanned scene after scene to confirm. How can that be, I wondered.

And I thought about the things they carried. What was in those backpacks, those little, utilitarian sacks meant to hold lunches and shoes while commuting?

A passport. An extra pair of pajamas and underwear, maybe, but not spare pants or sweaters because they’re too bulky. Perhaps a toothbrush. Definitely a charging cord.

Not: photo albums, collections of ironware pitchers or Christmas cacti, not books or quilts or heirloom dishes. Not even room enough for a week’s worth of diapers.

And then, dinner done, TV off, we went shopping. It was almost desperate, this need to get out of the house and we had the excuse of five March birthdays.

What do I even get sons in their 20’s?

We went to the new Marshalls, which was moved across the street to make way for yet more development. I hadn’t been in it yet and more to the point, I’ve scarcely shopped at all since March two years ago.

While parking, we speculated that we’d be the only mask-wearers in the joint but were wrong. Every single shopper and every single worker wore a mask.

I had cashmere scarves in mind, forgetting that that’s not how you shop at Marshall’s.

I didn’t have time to dwell in disappointment (socks again, really?) because over near the men’s hoodies, a young adult had parked himself and issued moan after moan after moan. A keening sound, full-throated and loud, really loud. It was the sound you’d make finding your cat dead on the side of the road or after learning your mother had lost her battle with cancer.

He repeated his moans, like a foghorn. A small woman I took to be his mother stood nearby slapping hangers from left to right, impervious.

My mind went two ways.

The first was to regret going out. Good god! What made me think I’d enjoy going where there would be people, stale air, and crap merchandise? And, did I mention — people? I wasn’t sure I could take it.

You could hear him all the way over in housewares. You could hear him near shoes and underwear. You could not escape his lament.

The second way my mind went was to hear his moans as the mournful cries of the world. Perhaps, I thought, he moans for all of us. Perhaps he serves as a beacon of sorrow, speaking what we all feel and cannot express.

They were talking about him as we checked out. He must be having a bad day.



13 thoughts on “shopping and moaning

  1. Nancy

    The world surprises us, doesn’t it…but, then again, nah it really doesn’t. There is too much pain that can’t be carried in a small backpack or moaned out of one in a cheap department store. Be well, shop sparingly. xo

  2. Nancy

    Yes, that. And I think how do we get caught feeling dumb, knowing we should have expected this or that? And then, how does that happen again and again?
    this goes for both world and personal ponderings.

  3. Tina

    With all the war news from Ukraine why would we spend the evening watching a movie about war??? We must be crazy but watching “Echoes of the Past” is just one more untold story about the horrors of war.
    I totally hear what you’re saying about shopping .. it really is just not fun anymore. The quality just does not justify the cost. Happy March Birthdays!!

  4. Liz A

    when I worked at the Texas State university library, there was a student who had Tourette Syndrome … her most distressing symptom was an intermittent bark, very loud and much like a dog … but she persisted with her studies and her life, while those around her were mostly kind and understanding … even at the grocery store … a whole community that accepted who and how she was …

    and really, is that what the world needs? … kindness and acceptance … empathy

  5. Saskia van Herwaarden

    I think we all need space, to do ‘your thing’ and be able to breathe….most of us who visit here have that I’m guessing
    I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must be for all those adrift, all the uncertainties they are dealing with all the time now, how is it possible one man gets to decide the fate of so many? why aren’t we capable of putting the bully in his place?
    I get why someone sits moaning, about Everything, not giving a damn who notices

    I like your elephant collection and the glimpse of you in the mirrors


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