I’ve parked and walked by it, I don’t know, maybe fifty times? Enough times that I should be familiar with the surroundings and everything in, on, or around the front of the grocery store I patronize.

I”m sure a lot of folks meander by the chocolate and vanilla fake stone flanked with the chocolate syrup colored stucco pop outs and don’t really see it.

I don’t like going to the grocery store, and sure as help not twice in one day.

My first trip to the store was to get a flower arrangement, a balloon filled with helium, a card, and a few necessities, like my favorite coffee creamer.

The balloon and card both said “Happy Birthday” on them. It was my wife’s birthday and I already had the gift part taken care of, so this was just the icing on the cake, so to speak.

The card was yellow, massive, the kinda card that you open and it plays an amusing song that turns to annoying after it’s been opened for the twentieth time.

The first feeling you get when you discover you’ve lost something is violated. The first thing you do, at least people like me, is to accuse somebody else.

I dug through the trash to make sure I didn’t toss the card with the feeble plastic grocery bags – grumbling about the cashier. After I discovered the card not to be found in the trash cans, I poked around for the receipt that showed that the birthday card never made it into her handsโ€ฆ which didn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

As I pulled back into my favorite area of the parking lot, the space between the grocery store and the small store fronts, I noticed it. For the first time.

the grocery store

A time gone by…

A public pay phone – or the housing that used to hold a telephone. A reminder of days gone by. I stopped and took this picture inserted before I went back in the grocery store.

I was reminded how we get in such a hurry we miss the little things, the details. I was also reminded how quickly life passes and that change is imminent.

As I stood beside the car, taking the time to snap the picture, long gone memories came back for a visit. I remembered calling our house after the movies for a ride from the pay phone I didn’t have a dime for. They knew it was us, even though they couldn’t hear us and come to pick us up and take us home.

I smiled, but not one of those almost laughing smiles. It was more of a glad-for-the-memories-but-a-little-melancholy-’cause-they’re-never-coming-back kind of smiles. It was mixed with an I-need-to-stop-and-smell-the-roses-more-often- type of sighs.

I couldn’t find the card. It was gone. But I got another annoying song playing type.

The next morning I realized I’d got the wrong creamerโ€ฆ Three visits to the grocery store in less than twenty-four hours. I should know that place like the back of my hand.