In one of my discussion groups, we start class every week going around the circle with our highs and lows from the week. My high is very often—nearly always—my trip to Wegmans on Saturday night. I said it jokingly at the beginning of the semester, struggling to come up with something interesting but not too personal to share with this group of mostly strangers, but it felt right. I am twenty years old, which most people associate with being young and fun and adventurous, and the highlight of my week is a Saturday night in a grocery store.
It’s not just a grocery store. It’s Wegmans. People are obsessed with Wegmans in a way I couldn’t quite comprehend when I moved out to Boston from my Midwest hometown. It’s consistently voted one of the top 100 places to work in America by Fortune magazine. Someone once proposed inside a Wegmans, because he and his now-wife spent so much blissful time there together. A group of Massachusetts high school theatre students wrote and performed an original musical about the store, which drew so much local interest that they expanded their performance schedule. People don’t care that much about grocery stores in Illinois. I’ve lived in Massachusetts and shopped at Wegmans for almost three years now; and I have fully, unhesitatingly joined the ranks of Wegmans super fans.
I love the person that I become in Wegmans. Suddenly, I’m not worried about the pile of readings on my desk or my essay due in two days. When I’m wandering the aisles, I become someone who has the time to bake her own bread, someone who thinks nothing of waking up on a Saturday morning to make a batch of wild blueberry scones, someone who might whip up homemade chicken soup for dinner. There is possibility around every corner, quite literally. After I come home from Wegmans loaded up with reusable tote bags and inspiration, the dopamine rush continues. My roommates will emerge from their rooms and say, “Something smells amazing!” I get to tell them that the banana bread will be out in twenty minutes or that there’s key lime pie in the fridge or that I’m just about to put double fudge brownies in the oven—courtesy of the Baking Essentials aisle.
Everything feels the same this year. The days and weeks blur together. The only thing keeping me from completely losing my mind is the punctuation of a solid routine. I can count on Wegmans on Saturday nights. I can count on the comforting sameness of grocery aisles. Everything will always be in its place. I know that no matter what happened in my week, the fruit will be piled in the front of the store, and the bread guy will wink at me, and I will never, ever be able to find the artichokes.
My daily life as a college student in a pandemic is full of “no.” No parties, no seeing too many friends, no in-person classes, no going out to eat, no traveling, no seeing family. No fun. In Wegmans, there are small delights that I’m allowed to say yes to, like honey goat cheese, a bunch of pale orange tulips, and sourdough that’s still warm.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Pinterest.