I save visits to superstores for when I have plenty of time and don't feel particularly urgent about anything. Do I want $3 acrylic slippers? Not particularly, but let's have a look-see. Tribal print leggings? Not really my thing, but my goodness, they do come in lots of colors nowadays.
I don't wear a lot of makeup, but why not look at all the makeup? There's so much makeup! I found myself dazzled and dazed, sucked in by rows and rows of sparkly boxes promising impossible things. Serums made of honey and gold flakes. Spritzes formulated with bone marrow and cucumber seeds. Are these things that I need? Do I need single-use foot scrubbing socks? Do I want hairspray that smells like peaches and cinnamon? An entire aisle of toothpastes? Yes.
Pretty soon, I found myself lost in Deep Target. In this area of the mega-market, time does not exist. My compass couldn't get a reading. I found myself staring at a turquoise Kitchen Aid standing mixer, wondering if I'd ever have the skill or the need for such a powerful creature. The shaggy bathmats called to me. The woven, stackable organizers beckoned. Hangers in every color of the rainbow! Laundry baskets shaped like Holstein cows! Somewhere between party supplies and scented candles, I sent an SOS.
Which way was out? I fumbled through Electronics and Sportswear into the seasonal section. Everything was orange and cost a dollar. I collapsed, and took shelter in an overturned shopping cart. Anything to keep me from those horrid, fluorescent lights. I pulled out my field notebook and prepared to make my final entry.
What was that smell? My nose caught a whiff of something so familiar, something so much like home, my body reacted before the word had fully formed in my mind: Starbucks. I could smell the nostalgic burned beans from inside my plastic cage. The Starbucks was right next to the entrance - my escape route! Where there was coffee, there would also be fresh oxygen! I emerged, yeti-like, from my place of refuge and, basket of booty hanging by the crook of my arm, limped towards the coffee odor. Before me, like the rising sun, she appeared - the smiling green patron saint of caffeine, a beacon of redemption for this weary traveler. I stayed the course, not daring to look back at the carnage I'd left behind in Deep Target.
Sarah Elovich is a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA.