I had a dream last night.
My family lived at Safeway. Not the Safeway we go to regularly. Not the other one we go to on the way home from swimming. A Safeway I made up out of parts of others; a mutt Safeway, if you will. Me, my husband and both kids were camped out there. We used the industrial sinks behind the deli for our nightly sponge baths. The kids slept in bag-lined shopping carts. The night watchman paid us no mind.
At dawn, the bakery staff would nudge us awake. We hung out at the Starbucks kiosk in our bathrobes, waiting for the first pot to be ready. My son spent his mornings squeezing loaves of bread, poking holes in the boxes of rice, and hiding in the mustard display at the end of aisle 2, asking unsuspecting shoppers “What are YOU looking at?” My daughter would take a box of crayons and a “Time” magazine off the shelves, and color the politician’s faces magenta, turquoise, ochre, cyan. My husband and I carried out errands that (at the time) seemed vitally important, but I can’t tell you now what they were. The afternoon found the kids taking a bite out of every apple in the pyramid in the produce section, then carefully placing the apple back in formation, bite-side in. Their dad and I would try, in vain, to nap under the meat counter.
During the after work rush, our son would get on the store’s PA system and make announcements like, “Attention shoppers: I pooped.” Our daughter would charm her way into the manager’s office, and watch DVDs on his tiny color TV. As the last of the shoppers left for the day, we’d let the kids have one last cart race around the store, then put them straight to bed – in the carts they’d just raced.