Monday, July 12, 2004 – 9:45 pm
It’s such a simple thing: We need milk, so I’ll go buy milk. Something I’m sure most people take for granted. Today I learned to appreciate the ability to purchase lactose products from the local grocery store.
As I grabbed the five bags from the end of the checkout counter and I realised that I had seriously overburdened myself, again. This was going to be a long walk home. The sun was completely uncovered and doing its job of heating the earth a little too well today. Now it was too late to reconsider that case of Pepsi – that was the clincher – the one item that was going to make the next 15 minutes hell.
Getting to the corner of Somerset and Kent I feel envigorated, like I had just walked a mile and wasn’t even tired. In actual fact I had walked only one block, and had at least ten to go. Dispair overtakes me as I start dividing the walk into manageable sections – Kent to the Beer Store, the Beer Store to the Funeral Home…
There’s no switching the bags around, either. I’ve balanced the items perfectly into each hand so that neither arm feels more strain than the other. Walking along I start to come up with possible alternatives to walking; taxi? bus? A taxi pulls alongside me, as if sensing my pain, but by then I’m walking past the Beer Store – at least halfway to Bronson now.
I stop and put my bags on a bench and rest for a minute while I calculate the distance home. The sun is bearing down on me now – unsympathetic to my cause. It’s as if God knows what I’m going through and wants me to regret every instinct that made me leave the house to get food in the first place. I pick up the bags and continue at a slower pace towards my destination.
Finally…Bronson. But wait…there’s still four blocks north to go. I’m starting to feel weak in this heat, and the sweat is pouring from every angle off my head and down my back. There’s a pain in my chest from breathing the humidity for so long. Or is it the cancer? Or is it my lack of red blood cells? The reasons for pain are endless now when once it would simply have been brushed off as nothing. Now everything has a reason. Every twitch, every hiccup, every cough has a cause.
I come up to the doorway and I can feel my hat holding back the volume of sweat is too great for the tiny elastic band. Sweat is now literally pouring into my eyes as I fumble with the front door key. The bags seem to weigh six times what they did back at the store and I promise myself that if any of the produce gets wasted I will seriously punish myself for doing all this for nothing. The elevator takes pride in taking extra long to carry me up to my apartment, edging along the floors while I almost collapse on its floor.
Door open, keys away, hat off, sweat everywhere. The milk, meat, and yogurt goes immediately into the fridge, bags and all. Non-perishables be dammed, I need to cool off somehow. I peel my clothes off and climb into the shower and turn the cold water on full. Finally, some relief.
But wait. I’ve been here before. This exact location, situation, and feeling. I’m exhausted, sweaty, and hating myself for forcing myself to get groceries on such a hot day. It had nothing to do with cancer, even though the entire event was planned around the fact that I had it. I’ve always hated walking home from the grocery store on hot days with too many bags of groceries. So what else is new?
My perspective has changed, but my condition remains the same. So please, don’t worry. I’ll get the milk myself from now on, thank you.