Thanks, Forrest, for the perfect cliche-clincher-opener.
What’s not to love about $300 jeans and an $8 oyster on the half shell? Jokes aside, Ponce City Market is a fun place, the hippest mall food court around. I like the energy—the vintage Bronco out front, the brick work, the fancy-meets-industrial style of the place.
Last week I had some time alone, and so I was like, “Girl,why don’t you go to PCM and get yourself some perfume.” I haven’t worn perfume since I was fourteen and I would squirt a drugstore fragrance called “Navy” on the love notes I wrote to Riley. I bought the stuff at Eckerd. I would buy some more if it were still a thing*. I would shop at Eckerd, too, if that was still a thing.
I recently abandoned real deodorant (the sort that actually works) so the perfume impulse was multi-layered. This momma was ready to re-establish her relationship with eau de parfum!
I arrive at Ponce City Market; I feel breezy and excited to be browsing with all the “cool kids” but without my actual kids. I was already in the red on cool points because I DROVE there (gasp!) rather than riding my bicycle. Oh well, I’ll just pay to park. An hour should more than do it, that will help to keep me focused. The parking machine needs my license plate number?! Hmm. What IS my license plate number? I jog cheerfully over to take a peek. Got it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat as I return to the machine. It’s like a BrainAge game trying to remember those 7 characters and enter them. Done. I smile at my minivan and face the market. You don’t actually go “in” as the market starts while you’re still outdoors. Maybe I should buy a San Pellegrino, I think joyfully. I love those! They feel like like a vacation in an aluminum can. And how you peel the foil off before popping the tab. Oh, those Italians have my number. But, no, I am here for the perfume. Maybe later.
Athletic men in tank tops and very short shorts smile at me as they turn and enter the outdoorsy shop with Yeti coolers and those neat hammocks made out of 80’s running suits. Cool. A beautiful 20 something walks by in wedge sandals and a killer dress. So cute. This is great.
I see a store front that I haven’t noticed before. The distressed wood and funky displays call to me. I know that I am on a mission, but I’m alone, and this is a reasonable departure from “the plan.” I go inside. There are signs on every wall with sayings like “You are Beauty Full” and admonitions about how to live my life: “Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” I wish I had someone here to giggle with about that one. This store has all the stuff–baby things, crafty things, candles, stationary, succulents. I pick up a felted porcupine wrapped in a forest themed playmat. The whole thing fits in the palm of my hand. I should get this $28 porcupine for my sister-in-law who’s pregnant. It’s so cute and whimsical. I think she would love this. Wrapped up in this palm-sized toy are the visions I had for the toys my kids would love—wood and felt creatures made from simple materials with timeless charm. I put the porcupine down.
Further into the store I find something! Something I am going to buy! It is the same price as a blanket Levi asked for from Target, but this one is cuter. It’s a no-brainer.
I walk to the counter and am enjoying all the fun things on display. The cashier rings up the purchase and begins wrapping it in crinkly brown tissue. I love crinkly brown tissue. To my left is a pyramid of small white boxes with a hand-written note above them that reads “Locally made.” I am intrigued and reach for the box to see what they mean by “local.” The lid to the box quickly comes off the box, and I am left holding it and looking down in shock. Four artisan chocolates have fallen from their box. One rolled under the cash register still another under a rack of earrings. The paper doilies holding the chocolates have fluttered to the floor and across the counter. I am in shock. It’s a Russell Stover explosion. I didn’t even realize it was a box of chocolates or that it would all open so easily. I am the bull in the china shop and immediately offer to pay for the box I just spilled. There was no way to re-box and re-sell this mess. The cashier says, “Oh. It’s no problem. They are delicious” and adds them to my total. “That will be $73.13.” “Wait, what? Is this a $50 box of chocolates?!” She laughs and tells me she made an error entering something. Well, that’s a relief. I get my new total, and still feel stunned by the price. $11 for four chocolates. Wow. Old butter fingers here just bought some pricey nibbles. I would’ve rather had a couple 6 packs of San Pellegrino, that’s for sure.
I moved on to another shop and bought some perfume. It smells like a new day. Later that night I held out my wrist to Riley. He said he can’t really smell it. Maybe he will be able to smell the Navy I just ordered from Walmart.com. Yes! I found the old charmer on the internet! I’ll have it in 10 business days.
Today Charlotte saw the box of chocolates in my room and asked me what they were. I told the kids my story. They thought it was pretty funny and then immediately asked to eat the chocolates. I read them the fancy descriptions of each lovingly formed morsel, then I cut those jokers into four pieces each, and they were gone in a matter of seconds.
Life is like a box of chocolates. More delicate than it seems, messy, unpredictable, and costly. Today life was also funny and sweet while the kids stood around eating that overpriced candy that I NEVER would have bought on purpose. I am glad for the $11 fumble. It made me smile and will certainly give me more grace the next time my kids just HAVE to touch that thing at the checkout and it goes all over the place.
(*Fact check-I just googled it, and you can still buy Navy Cologne. I just ordered some. I can’t wait to smell 14 again. Watch out, Riley!)