One of my new “happy places” in Salt Lake City is the grocery store Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has been around for a long time in the surrounding states, but only recently came to our city, sans their famous wine. Even without it, they are doing a bustling business. From the burst of color in the floral department, to the uniqueness of the produce, to the friendly clerks in their Hawaiian shirts—the whole experience of walking through the doors puts a smile on my face. What I love most is the variety. I love the wide assortment of cheeses. I love the smells of the spices and the taster’s table of juices. I love the “testers” of lotions and potions and smelling like I have been on a Caribbean vacation when I leave. I love grabbing a box of something I have never tried before. I love the diversity of customers who frequent the store— the urban, the young and the hip folks.
The size of my family has necessitated that I still make a bi-weekly pilgrimage to the “warehouse” store. When you are feeding a small army, you simply must shop where blocks of cheese weigh five pounds and bread and milk prices are slashed to bearable! Unfortunately, thirty plus years of family life and buying enough Tide and toilet paper to reach to the moon and back—has led to a loss of sizzle in mine and Sam’s relationship. Like oil changes and teeth cleanings, shopping for dog food and frozen chicken breasts is just something you hold your nose and do to keep life running. My spirit does not lend itself to the institutional and concrete. I much prefer the intimate and perishable.
Farmer’s markets, bakeries, nurseries, and delis, those on the other hand, are places I relish; I experience; I inhale. These are the places that feed my soul. Variety is the spice of life and it is in the small, the personal and the diverse that I find my taste buds enlivened—whether it is food for my body or food for my thoughts. As I carried my stuffed Trader Joe bags to the car last week, (Will I ever remember to bring along recycle grocery sacks when out and about?) I had the same happy feeling I always do when I leave the library, with my bag heavy and overflowing with a pile of new books. Shopping at Trader Joes, gives me the same thrill that I find when shopping in an out of the way bookstore. The smell of Freesia and roses stimulates the same pleasure place in my brain as musty books in the used book store that my mom always makes sure I visit near her home. I love living in a time and place where the world is my market and a bounty of ideas, smells, tastes and colors can be carried home in a canvas bag (o.k.—paper)!