You haven’t truly experienced the feeling of being lonely until you’re at a grocery store by yourself and sober on a Friday night in a college town. There are definitely people there, but they’re with their families, drunk friends, and significant others.
Now I’d been feeling pretty content with my life recently. I don’t have a significant other, because I don’t want one taking up my time. I have awesome friends and a job I like. But all this was undone when I stepped into that grocery store. Halfway through the produce aisle, I shook it off, thinking about the food I was going to cook for the week. This was gonna be okay.
“Do you need any bags?” The cashier looks at me in a way that I can’t quite identify as I fumble with the items in my basket.
“Yeah, I forgot mine.” I smile and shrug and look at her more closely. She is 19 or 20 and looks like she spent about an hour getting ready. I feel bad for her. It’s Friday night. She’d probably rather be hanging out with her friends than helping drunk people buy mixers.
But the tables are turned. As I swipe my debit card, I identify the strange look she’s giving me. It’s pity.
“You have to press that button again.”
“You might have to watch that one bag. It’s pretty heavy. You should support it from the bottom. God, is this what my mid-twenties are going to be like? Putting on eyeliner to go to the grocery store alone? Forgetting my reusable bags? Wearing a coat that mysteriously smells like cigarettes even though I don’t smoke? Not having a significant other to help me carry my heavy grocery bags? Don’t you have any friends?”
“I have friends. They’re just in grad school. Or in serious relationships. Or in India.”
“Oh. I feel sorry for you.”
“Listen bitch. I wanted to go to the grocery store tonight so I won’t have to do it tomorrow. I was gonna spend tonight writing and snuggling with my cat. Maybe I was gonna watch something from my Netflix cue. This is what I chose.”
“God, I’m so glad I’m pretty and I’ll never have to deal with this.”
“If only you could have seen me when I was in my early 20s! I had too many friends to count. I had lovers. Plural! People wanted to be me and people wanted to be with me.”
“Well what happened?”
What happened indeed, cashier girl. What happened indeed.
Of course, none of this is said.
“Have a nice night!” she actually says as she starts ringing up the next customer.
“Thanks, you too.” I support the bottom of the heavy bag and walk through the automatic doors, very much alone.