As Mercedes and I were on the way home today we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a couple of items to complete our dinner plan. She and I had done our week's major shopping a couple of days ago, and I was proud to have used coupons that saved us over $50 on our original total of $258. As today's few items were being scanned, my eye caught the young woman checking out in the next aisle. What I saw on the conveyer belt shocked me so much that I had look more than once to believe my eyes.
The totality of what I assumed was her week's grocery shopping: 3 single-serve size containers of yogurt, one red pepper, one yellow pepper, one bottle of salad dressing, one quart of 2% milk, and one (that's right, one) ear of sweet corn.
What?! One ear of sweet corn?
It has been so long since I have purchased one grocery item of anything (as I calculate at least eleven or more years now) that I had to momentarily reflect upon my life as a single person, lo those many years ago. Those were the days when a gallon of milk would spoil in the time that I might use it, that part of a dozen eggs would have to be tossed because they passed the expiration date, that a package of cold cuts would be thrown away from a lack of use. My grocery bills in those days were probably less than $40 a week, compared to the $300 per week we average now.
In my split seconds of gawking, processing and reminiscing it didn't take me long to realize that I really do prefer my life the way it is now compared to the way it was then. I like to purchase the groceries, prepare the food and serve a horde of humanity at my table. I enjoy knowing that at any moment I can find a child in my home who is interested in talking with me or doing something. I like knowing that when I go to bed I will awaken to a family full of life and surprises. Even in the midst of difficult days that we have experienced, I would not trade these years as a parent for any of my single years. I enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of those times, but my life is so much fuller and so much more meaningful these days.
I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to buy a single ear of sweet corn. And I hope I never have to do it again. Ever.