It’s always odd to go somewhere you haven’t been since you were a child. Inevitably, the place you go back to has shrunk. That great big room seems ever so much smaller. The counters are shorter. The bookshelves don’t hold nearly as many books as you remember they did.
Though the tallest out-of-reach cupboards are, inevitably, still out of reach. What can I say — I’m short.
This week, I was reminded of that feeling of living in a world that doesn’t quite fit the way you remember it. Reminded not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions.
Every so often, we go to a different grocery store than our usual. Actually, we did it twice in one week. The first was one of these enormous superstore places that carries everything you ever wanted to eat and even some stuff you’ve never even heard of. They have entire rows dedicated to a single type of food. Like noodles. Who knew there were that many different noodle choices? And spices. Did you know that you can fill an aisle 30 feet long with jars and bottles of spices?
I felt like a little kid, and not just because of the plethora of choices. In that particular store, the ceilings stretch far overhead. Forget 30 foot ceilings — these are more like 60 foot ceilings. The store is a giant, with long aisles stacked at right angles to each other, making mini-stores within the bigger store that serve only to confuse you if you don’t go there regularly.
My favourite part is the seasonal good section. There, you can find all manner of most excellent toys and games and sports gear for every imaginable season. In spring, we find bubbles and sidewalk chalk and toy planting sets. In summer, it’s badminton sets and volleyball nets and sandbox toys and all manner of flying things. In autumn, you find skipping ropes and roller skates and all the unsold items from the past two seasons, now on clearance and oh-so-afordable. And winter… winter is a delight. Toboggans, magic carpets, snow saucers, snowball makers, snow brick packers, igloo kits, and even a 3-ball-at-a-time snowball launching gun.
Because throwing snowballs the old-fashioned way is just so… yesterday.
You can’t help but feel small and young and starry-eyed when you are surrounded by so many oversized aisles stuffed full of choices.
Later on the same week as the visit to the super-sized store, we found ourselves somewhere a little smaller. The ceilings were lower, for one thing. The aisles were much, much shorter. The entire store could be traversed in just a moment, unlike the it-takes-a-week-to-walk-all-the-aisles expanse of the other store.
The selection was smaller, true. But the veggies were fresher and came from farms within the same province for the most part. They had a seasonal section, too. It was a single rack holding gourmet candy canes in a plethora of flavours like cherry and gingerbread. But what truly amazed me was the organic foods and spices section. It was miniature. What’s more, it was tucked in a corner where the ceilings were barely 7 feet tall and the ‘aisles’ were a single narrow bookshelf long — the kind of metal wire rack bookshelves that we have in our basement, at that.
It was as if someone had carved out a tiny cave from the deepest, darkest corner of the store and stuck all the organic grains and rices and spices and looseleaf teas in there. I felt like a giant in Lilliput.
A day or two after that, I was downloading photos from the camera and I came across photos that I have no recollection of having taken. Nor do I believe The Man We Call Dad took them. In fact, I am not even sure where these photos were taken, other than the obvious: at a grocery store.
The perspective is all wrong, you see. These photos were taken from down low, looking upwards, and often out of focus. I rather suspect they were taken while on a family trip with our young nieces in charge of the camera.
It’s always interesting when you give a child a camera. You never know what you are going to see.