I made grilled cheese and french fries for an early dinner. I had to run to the store and just did not have it in me for anything else.
Joe comes home just as I am finishing up the last of the sandwiches. We do a quick catch up, I tell him how I need to run to the store for last minute things for Vinnie’s birthday tomorrow. (And by “last minute things” I mean a card and cash!)
I grabbed my jacket. “Do you think you can keep an eye on the last grilled cheese? I need to make a quick phone call.”
Joe looks at me, nods his head and all is good. I go outside to the balcony to call my sister real quick. (I have to go outside because my phone seriously has no reception inside. Just ask anyone who I talk to on the phone.)
My sister and I talk for maybe ten minutes. I head back inside to a smoking pot on the stove a very black grilled cheese sandwich and Joe on the sofa oblivious to it all. I turn the stove off, remove the pan and assure Sofia that “No, we do not need to call the fire department.”
I am now in the Target checkout line. I do not know why it is I do not shop at Target more often. It’s only a four-minute drive from my apartment and they have cute stuff. A little pricey on their meats but other than that a good store.
The lady in front of me is using WIC. For those not familiar, WIC stands for Woman, Infant, Children. It is a federal program to help low-income woman provide nutrition to their children. Many people equate WIC with welfare. That is not always true. You can qualify for WIC and not qualify for food stamps. It is a good program, and I am not ashamed to say when I had Gracie, I was on WIC. There was no way I was able to afford her special needs formula on my own.
WIC was a life saver for Joe and I. The thing is when using WIC, you are issued “checks.” These checks are very specific to what you can buy. Specific milk, peanut butter, formula, juice. You have to get exactly what the check says, and the cashier has to make sure everything matches up. It’s a long process, and sometimes when you have judgemental know-it-alls behind you in line, they can leave you feeling insecure and less than.
I was determined not to make this lady in front of me feel like that. So, as she and the cashier are going through about five different WIC checks, I occupy myself on the phone. I talk myself out of buying a Snickers, and I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me.
So here is the scoop. Directly behind me in line is a lady. Probably mid 30’s. Behind her is a couple. Man and woman. At this point I have not seen them, I can just hear the conversation.
Couple~ That is a great tattoo!
Lady~ Oh I am sorry, I did not know it was showing.
Couple~ It’s a great tattoo! Did you go to Disney often?
Lady~ Thank you! We just got back a month ago, that’s when I got the tattoo.
It was at this point that I turned around. I am nosy, I wanted to see the tattoo and the cashier was still dealing with the customer using WIC.
I turn around, see the couple. I freeze for about eight seconds, then quickly turn back around.
This couple, I do not even know, this couple was, well, I want to say a “better” version of Joe and me, but I know better than that. The lady, probably about ten years older than me. Long shoulder length black hair, styled the same way as I do mine. She was dressed perfectly. Long black coat, a beautiful knee-length red skirt paired with a black blouse. The gentleman, black slacks, grey button-down, and a black and grey petticoat. In my mind, they just got out of church and had to run into Target for some last minute items for Sunday dinner. But….it was not just the way they were dressed. It was the way they carried themselves, the way they were engaging the other lady in conversation regarding her tattoo. This couple had a positive, feel-good vibe about them.
I remember being a little girl, looking into the future, this is the couple who I saw myself as. And the fact that they looked like an older version of Joe and I really made me think.
While in the checkout line, I had to quickly get a grip on reality. As wonderful and as positive as this look-alike couple seemed to be, we all know there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.
I can write about twenty different scenarios, but they would all end the same way.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be the hard things, the big things that matter. It’s going to be seeing your spouse through loss, it’s going to be making the active decision every day to love the other, even when it is not always easy. It’s going to be holding your tongue if they are a loud eater, it will be hanging in there through weight gain or weight loss. It will be money, it will be jobs, it will be kids. And as much as I truly enjoyed this couple, as much as I enjoyed seeing what a different version Joe and I would be, none of that compares to the real thing…..
unless perhaps we are talking about burnt grilled cheese.