It’s Different This Time
The grocery list is scribbled on an envelope that had been cracked open along the spine like a mountain range. I never understood why I need a list, anyway. Grocery runs follow the same rat-maze pattern, systematically exploring each aisle of the store in order, regardless of what was written or what we are out of.
End with the freezer foods. Start with produce. Squeeze the melons and avocados, but not the carrots or broccoli. Tear plastic bags from the hefty roll overhead and thumb them carefully until the mouth splits open like a papercut. Three-for-a-dollar zucchini, but two-for-five-dollars for eggplants. Get store-brand sauces but name-brand beans because of the sodium. Get frozen spinach but canned peas. Put the dented ones back because Mrs. Culpepper told you they rust inside. Stock up on shelf-stable goods like you’re getting ready for a hurricane.
After the flood, we pulled canned creamed corn from the bottom cupboards and sprayed them off outside with the hose. Dry goods were in the upper cabinets; we had learned a few things over time and other disasters. Everything in the drop freezer had to be thrown out: there was black mold on the ledge of the lid warning us like a floating cemetery plot. We waited for the Salvation Army to drive by on Mondays. The big guys in the back of the truck would juggle oranges to make us smile. Their battery-operated antenna radio squeaked out John Michael Montgomery, pouring out onto the street like liquid mercury. Sometimes they gave out blankets and meal kits. One time, a pineapple. We always got bananas and we knew better than to say no.
It’s a luxury to get to pick your own food out. I walk down the cereal aisle like it’s my wedding day, dazzled by colorful boxes and the promise of prizes. I buy more pasta than I need—i t’s the only food I don’t fuck up when I’m daydreaming. I’m tired of coming back to earth and seeing that I’ve burned the roux when all I’m thinking about is when will I ever see my friends again.
Rhienna Renèe Guedry is a Louisiana-born weirdo who found her way to the Pacific Northwest, perhaps solely to get use of her vintage outerwear collection. A Jill of All Trades, she enjoys time spent writing, making art, riding her bicycle, and curating the best Halloween parties this side of the Mason-Dixon.