THERE WASN’T A shopping list, but instead, a transient lack. As in, Let’s go to CVS to see if we need anything. The game plan was to arrive at a store (Acme, Wegmans, CVS, Boscov’s…) and peruse the aisles looking for the right thing to fit the empty place. Was it a dish detergent-sized hole that could be filled with the $2.99 Dawn freesia scent? Or maybe a chocolate-sized hole that would be satiated with a bag of Peanut M&Ms to share? Makeup was a reliable fix. A new color pallet or cream to experiment with.
It was the excursion. It was an excuse to change the scenery for an hour, maybe get a walk outside to CVS on Black Horse Pike, and get excited together about small discoveries: hair shine spray, new magazine, erasable pens. It was a jaunt with purpose.
IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, Mom and I would go to CVS at 11:45pm on Saturday night. The weekly sales started Sunday at midnight which gave us time to once-over the circular, then inventory the aisles for the good stuff. The Harwin Theater across the street had a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. We saw people in full spectator costume stocking up on soda and candy before the film. Mom would complement costume extravagances and sing one-liners from the show as she careened down the shampoo and conditioner lane.For an instant, she put her silliness on full display.
Mom had moments of unencumbered freedom from self-doubt and vacillation. Often these would surface in the presence of strangers at the drugstore. Acting goofy to make us laugh or encourage us to reply in kind. She’d bond in the checkout line with the friendly customer in front of her and be re-energized for hours.
Midnight outings marked the start of the night. Mom often stayed up until 2am or later: Folger’s instant in her mug, Merit Light 100 sending signals from her ashtray, sitting at the table next to the back door with a magazine spread out in front of her. Nights like this turned a light on inside of my mother; perhaps just a sense of lightness that radiated from the spirit of her humor.
AS THE WEATHER gets kinder in New York, I find myself taking walks to Duane Reade just to see if there’s anything I need. Instead of finding dish soap or hair ties or Kleenex in the aisles, I find my own longing to see Mom at her goofiest. I miss her brand of silliness. I miss her.
In gratitude to you Dear Reader and Momma,