Friday, January 27, 2012

You know you're a total sap when...

...The Target beside your house is closing and you are actually, truly sad about it.

No, not crying sad, just "had to go there the past couple days" sad.

Sure, I got a couple good deals on things I did actually want (some nice new shirts for the kids, sunglasses, a wallet, a couple other things as well), but really I just wanted to be at this store.

I used to go to this Target years ago with my parents, right after we first moved down from Maine. I was a teen and still adjusting to the area, but I remember being in their Christmas section and hearing the jokes about how it was called tar-jhay by some (mythical?) folks.

Throughout the years I remember clearance sales and last minute holiday gifts. It was my go-to place Christmas Eve when we got word of another cousin coming to dinner or remembered that we'd left someone off the list. I used to troll their holiday section after each holiday for good deals and cheap candy, or sit in their patio furniture and dream about one day owning a patio to furnish. I spent the scant money I earned as a teen on clothes there, since it was too expensive at the mall. We got gift certificates to Target with both kids, and for random holidays and birthdays. We did our baby registry for Paxton there, explaining to the woman that we didn't have an actual due date, nor would he be a baby, but we wanted to go through this process. I had been eying a certain baby blanket for months and when I got to add it to the registry I though my heart would burst. We got two of them at the shower.

As I walked through the store today with Ambrose, two memories hung on clearly.

One was the day we were matched with Ambrose's first mom, R. We'd gotten the call that morning and were told we had to be at lunch with her and a case worker the next day at noon, three hours away. I looked through my closet and freaked that I didn't have anything nice to wear. My mother came over to watch P and I had a rare hour to myself to run off to Target and try on clothes, trying to find something that was nice and clean but not dressy. I ended up picking khaki pants and a grey t-shirt, both clean and well cut but definitely stay-at-home-mom attire. Sort of a more put together version of myself that I'm still trying to replicate. While there, I mentioned to the man watching the dressing rooms what I was doing this for. I was so excited, I had to tell someone! He informed me that he himself had been adopted, in a closed adoption, and he had no information his birth parents and had been searching a long time. He was very happy I was meeting her, and I almost broke down in tears at his story. I made sure to take pictures, write down seemingly insignificant details, and learn as much as was allowed. Every time I write her a letter and send pictures I think of him and his birthparents, who never received pictures of him. I had always hoped to run into him again with Ambrose, as I'd sometimes see him working at the store when I was there by myself. Today I realized that will never happen. My heart was heavy then...

The second memory was far less significant, but still...

Two years ago there was a snowstorm. We were stuck at home but going stir crazy, and while we didn't want to risk going far we decided that driving someplace close on empty roads, very slowly, would be fine. So we packed up a totally bundled infant and a bouncing-off-the-walls four year old and drove to Target. The place was empty of people but full of lights and toys and lots of space to run. Ambrose had fallen asleep in his car seat, a very rare occasion, and so I just meandered with him, happy to stretch my legs and be out of the house, as Nik and Paxton found a bouncy ball and ran up and down the halls together laughing. It was almost surreal, the place to ourselves... it may be a huge, evil empire-esque giant of a company but that store itself... we felt comfortable there.

There are so many other, tinier memories of that store; picking out presents with Paxton for his brother or friends, shyly buying a multi-pack of OPKs and HPTs when we decided to sort of kind of maybe not not try again, picking up a million last minute snacks on the way to someplace else, picking out our silverware and bed set for our new home and feeling so grown up and in charge, several trips to buy things off of other people's baby registries as I try to keep up hope that I'll get the chance some day and stop my own petty and jealous feelings, and then being so happy to finally be able to buy diapers and baby wash and just baby things in general once my own turn came along.

It's dumb, right?

It's a chain store, one who gives money to causes I don't support.

It's workers who come and go, products that are mass produced and often over priced, cheap junk my kids beg for, and too much packaging.

It's a big box store, a huge building, when my own personal beliefs call for me to be buying smaller and simpler and more consciously.

It's just... a store. Full of faces I don't know and things I'll rarely buy.

But it's also a place. A familiar place. Like a park or a library, just less poetic.

I have been there a million times for totally random tasks and yet some of them stick out in my mind so vividly as I walk down those halls and realize that I'll never walk down them again.

Me as a young teen, me with my self earned money, me in college, me getting married, me setting up house, me preparing for a child, me caring for an infant, me being all grown up and living a totally different life from when I first walked through those very same doors.

I guess in a way it's only normal that I would feel this way. Sixteen years of growth might do that to a person, especially when so many key life points have been linked to this one location, a location I took totally for granted until I saw the bare shelves and read the signs.

So goodbye, nearby Target. I know there are still two more locations within close distance. I know this store will probably be turned into something else that I may very well frequent. But for the moment I will mourn you and your familiarity and all of the things you remind me of, all of the growth captured within your walls.

It's been great. Thanks for all the memories.

Also, thank you for taking back those two sound machines a few years back when we didn't even have receipts. That was awesome of you.


Sarah said...

Ahhh memories. It doesn't matter where they are- they still are touching. (Btw- My family has always jokingly called it Tar-jay.)

Kim said...

I totally get it. They just tore down the mall that was my mall growing up. The one where I first got dropped off to wander around with my friends and experience a teeny bit of freedom. The one where I bought the outfit I wore to my first job interview (and where I bought countless teacher sweaters after that). Lots of memories there. Now it's going to be a mega church.