Last night was one of those nights where you sit and think about things. It was the type of night where if you enjoyed liquor and you had a bottle, you’d have a glass. You wouldn’t gulp it down trying to wash away memories. No, you’d sit quietly reliving each and everyone, thinking about friends you haven’t seen in a while, and lightly sipping to enjoy the harshness its reality brings you.
Living in a small town has it’s good side and bad side. You know everyone and everyone knows you. I haven’t yet figured out of that’s the good side or the bad side. Either way it has its moments. All the farmers from the outlying areas come into town once a week well before sunrise to meet at the local diner for breakfast, there’s always a group of old women you who know all the “business” of everyone in town, and there’s a local grocery store where you are greeted with a smile and a wave. It doesn’t seem like much to many but that’s pretty much small town life, for me a lot of it was the grocery store.
I got hired at the grocery store straight out of high school. On the recommendation of a friend I put in my application and made sure I showed my face every day. Soon I got a call asking if I could work and could I start that day. Sure I could. I had no idea it was going to change my life.
There’s lots of things I remember about the store and like all things in life there were good, and bad. I remember bags of dog food stacked high in the corner and shelves that never seemed to stay straightened. I remember the freezers full of milk and produce and the time the freezer iced over and we played hockey when we were supposed to be cleaning out the freezer. I remember cleaning the deli case and finding a kitten underneath and I remember losing a close friend in a car accident.
I remember the Loma Prieta earthquake, the cans rattling on the shelves and I remember getting the call telling me my father had died. I remember my brother, who has since passed away, helping me sheetrock the office and water fights on the produce aisle.
It was the place I bought my first car (and second) and the place I fell in love for the first time. It was also where I learned about heart break. It was there I became part of a family who accepted me and took me as one of their own inviting me to experience their culture, and learn about their traditions and it was there I became strong and grew into a man.