It seems that every post lately involves me in a grocery store but hey I like to eat and it’s not like there are many discos out here in the country. Also it’s one of the few things I can do without an interpreter. I did try to mail a letter by myself which didn’t go well and is a story for another day.
So there I am, fashionable as ever, sweatpants (wide leg so not totally disastrous), knobby pilled fleece, bedhead, a sight to behold. I’m trying to get in and out quickly as I suspect that I might possibly smell worse than I look. There is a woman ahead of me clearly in some sort of panic, whipping items along the belt at breakneck speed, talking a mile a minute, obviously late for something (at least I hope so). She was stressing me out a bit so I turned my attention behind me.
They were about 80 this husband and wife and stood somewhere between my waist and my shoulder as most people in France do. They were immaculately dressed and groomed. They were very carefully placing their items on the belt and I couldn’t help noticing what they had. Huge figs, 4 specialty cheeses, 2 bottles of very nice wine and a bottle of sherry, warm baguettes, fine coffee, berries, créme fraiche, huge carrots, eggplants and tomatoes, fresh fish, veal chops, duck breast and some very fine dark chocolate. The last item was my favorite, a huge gold can of aerosol hair spray, a brand that I recognized from my grandmother’s time.
I couldn’t help but think that the history of their life was laid before me on this conveyor belt. A lifetime of fine food and wine. Wedding supper, children’s breakfasts, Christmas feasts, summer picnics, rationing during the war, treats for grandchildren, funeral buffets, all served with perfectly styled hair. These two weren’t buying much food but what they had was the very best. Each item was so lovingly taken from the cart, it was really one of the sweetest things I’ve seen here so far.
It got me to thinking about how much we can tell about people from their items at the checkout. I often have a feeling of being quite exposed when all my sundries are out there for the world to see. Like it’s somehow a weird invasion of my privacy but hopefully others don’t read as much into food as the average psychiatrist does.
What I got from this encounter was that this couple’s whole life has been the life I dreamed about living for many years. Did they feel blessed to have had this life surrounded by the best wine and cheese in the world enjoyed over 3 hour lunches? Has it simply been all they have ever known and therefore not an issue for reflection nor gratitude? Is this a life, like so many, simply taken for granted? I often have these thoughts while walking around Paris. I wonder how anybody gets through a workday there without being overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds them.
In my head I know that the daily grind of life has a way of blocking out the spectacular and awe-inspiring sights around us day in and day out but my heart wants to believe that each day someone stops to admire the many wonders of Paris and has their breath taken away time and time again.
I want to thank this couple for reminding me to appreciate everything around me every day that I am here or anywhere else I may wander. To experience each moment as a gift. I also want to thank them for not judging me too harshly as my life was also laid out on the conveyer belt. Four big bags of Lay’s baked chips. Well, they were on sale…