I remember the night before Thanksgiving. I was wearing the black and white dress and pearl earrings that I save for days that I anticipate being important because you and I were going to go shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner that we were going to have the next day, just the two of us, in your apartment. That evening, after work I had x-rays taken of my spine. Looking at the results with the doctor, I could see that my spine curved like a very narrow “S”. The doctor told me that it – or I – had arthritis. Time was suddenly tangible. It was there in the x-ray and it was in the lower back pain that had sent me to the doctor in the first place. I felt old and scared.
After my appointment you picked me up in your car and we drove around looking for a grocery store that wasn’t too crowded because I didn’t want to have to spend too much time standing in a check-out line. We settled on a small, rundown, little grocery store wedged between bars and t-shirt shops near Astor Place. Instantly, I loved its cracked dirty linoleum floors and cramped aisles. Other people might have been shopping at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods but this little store was ours. Together we picked out a pumpkin pie from the store’s bakery. It was the one thing we both felt we absolutely needed to make it a real Thanksgiving. Everything else we were willing to make up as we went along. The store didn’t have any turkeys so you picked out pre-cut and packaged turkey lunch meat and a can of cranberry sauce. You insisted that it be the kind that plops right out of the can, still holding that grooved metal can shape as it jiggles in the bowl. I picked out all the necessary ingredients for making guacamole and a couple potatoes for making mashed potatoes. As we left the store, you walked ahead of me, carrying our shopping bag. I lagged behind, holding the pie box in my arms, making a point of memorizing everything about the store and the feeling. Time was tangible. Again, I felt old but this time I wasn’t scared. From the doorway you looked back at me, “You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?”