As readers and friends know, I walk everywhere. The grocery store is no exception.
I go to the store about twice a week. I can only carry so much, so I have to strategize what provisions I buy and haul home. For example, if I get a gallon of milk, then that's half the trip's purchase because I only have two hands. I mean, sometimes I can fit another bag into my hand, but it depends if my fingers feel well rested.
Last summer there came a day where I had all the rations I needed for the week, but I was craving watermelon. But hey, if I don't need anything else, I could totally just buy a watermelon and carry it home.
I'm very selective in my watermelon choosing. Watermelon (and corn on the cob) ranks in my top foods. My selection must be relatively round, have a healthy rind (none of those yellow spots), and be on sale.
I never really considered how much watermelon weighs. You rarely pay by the pound. It's either $3.99 or $5.99 or whatever way Kroger swings that day. On this day, Kroger was swinging to $2.99 so I got myself a perky, little watermelon. LOL at thinking it was little. At self-checkout, I learned I had adopted a 14-pound child, but no matter. I bench far more than that. It's only a mile and a half walk.
At block two, I realized the error of my ways.
Despite weighing in the range of miniature dog, watermelons are far less easy to grip. There is no handle. You just hold it. So simple. Not really.
My lower back began to scream by block four. I readjusted. This only helped some. My kidneys felt ready to burst from my body. I'm not sure why this affected my kidneys so much. I never knew a water fruit could make my torso feel like it was coming undone from my legs.
I started to stop at every block and rest my child upon the sidewalk and do some stretches as cars rolled by. I did one of those stock photo stretches where your knuckles go into your back and you bend backward.
"Just doing my daily watermelon walk," I mouthed to the cars.
I contemplated abandoning my child. It was only $2.99. I could stomach this loss and still afford another watermelon once I fetched my car. Or I could leave it here and come back for it. Who would steal a watermelon off the sidewalk?
But I was so close. I persevered. And laid in bed for the next three days. But that was the juiciest, most deserved watermelon in my 24 years.
You think I would have learned my lesson. I should be more willing to drive to the store. But I'm a Taurus.
You might remember the unseasonal tornado watch back in February. So yes, I knew there was a tornado watch, but I think meteorologists tend to over exaggerate. And it wasn't raining. And I needed egg whites. Consequently, I walked to Kroger. It did not rain my whole way there.
At Kroger, I bought a gallon of milk, some lean hamburger, three egg white cartons, a bag of mozzarella, and an avocado.
Spoiler: RIP avocado.
The cashier asked if I wanted paper or plastic. Not even considering the rain, I said paper. I like to use the paper bags for recycling.
Exiting the store, I realized the forecast had changed. Or had been realized is better wording. Rain hammered down from the grayest of skies. Thankfully, I had an umbrella. But you try carrying a bag of groceries, a gallon of milk (I asked for no bag, FML), and an open umbrella.
Something had to give. A few things did.
I kept rearranging the load on my arms. I alternated which limb carried the milk and which hand was better for mastering the open umbrella in these blustery winds. I avoided placing the paper bag on the wet ground at these pit stops lest it soften with moistness and rip. That would be a trauma I could not come back from. (Foreshadowing!)
At some point I detected a siren over the winds and rain and thunder. Yes, a tornado warning siren. (And yes, thunder too.) But what exactly am I supposed to do when I'm in the middle of the Museum District with $41 in groceries? (Egg whites are expensive.) Like with the watermelon, I battled onward.
Eventually the siren stopped. I decided the tornado had passed or else ripped the siren from its foundation.
I have never seen a tornado. I wouldn't mind seeing one. It would make a great Instagram. Secretly I hoped this would be the day. I am the sort of person who embraces chaos. In my undergrad there was a riot featuring tear gas otherwise known as JMU's (last) Springfest 2009. When I heard about the teargas, I went toward the battle. I wanted to see this great sight.
(The other day a youth told me he had heard of Springfest. "Isn't it a concert every April?" Nice rebranding, alma mater.)
Now I was wet by this point in my journey, but I was not threatening to wash up in the Chesapeake Bay. Yet. Six blocks from home, the heavens decided to open up even their windows, and I took a shower right there on Belmont Avenue. Any cars driving by could have seen every crevice of my body, the way my clothes plastered to my body. I was NSFW.
I would have accepted a ride home at this point, but the rest of Richmond was fleeing the tornado. I mean, so was I, but by foot.
A block closer to home, the paper bag gave through. The handles split from the bag, and my egg whites, mozzarella, and avocado hit the sidewalk.
Do I go on? Do I leave them here?
Dammit, that was $41. I did not swim Ellwood Street to return empty-handed. I picked up the tattered remains and pressed them to my chest. I also gave up on the umbrella. That became part of my bundle. I bent myself toward the wind and trudged forward.
A single block from my apartment, the rain lashed so hard I could not see in front of me. My collection of egg white cartons, milk jug, and bag of cheese squirmed to escape. I found little respite by turning into the gate of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that flanks Grove Avenue. I reassembled my groceries and prepared for the final block/battle. This is when I think I lost the avocado. If I had known, I would have fallen back and chased it into the gutter. But I did not detect the loss of life in the howling storm. All I saw was the curtains of rain and (imagined) funnel clouds.
Reaching home, my roommate Liz gaped at me.
"Were you outside? Were you walking in this? You know there's a tornado warning? My work sent me home early. This is the most Cazey thing you could do."
Me: "I needed groceries. Ohmigawd, I'm soaked. Ohmigawd, it really is coming down out there. Ohmigawd, where is my avocado?"
I laid the remains of my grocery on the counter. Everything seemed to be intact: The dented gallon of milk, three crushed egg white cartons (gotta buy in bulk), a resident bag of mozzarella cheese, etc. But there was no avocado!
"I must have dropped it," I realized. "What a waste of 77 cents."
Liz: "I still can't believe you went walking in a tornado."
My other friend, upon hearing my tale, told me "this is the most millennial thing you could do," which is the lowest of blows. "You know, people die in tornadoes," he told me.
Insensitive me then started to laugh. Not because death is funny, but because I imagined the Onion headline "MILLENNIAL GOES OUT FOR AVOCADO, DIES IN STORM."
The worst part is, I took a selfie afterward.