It had been two days since we got home from the hospital with our brand new daughter. Among the countless amounts of unsolicited advice I had received, the one I was determined to adhere to was, "Get out of the house and take a break when you're ready." With three days in the hospital and two at home, I was ready to be in a place that didn't have a bed. My husband was still off on his week long paternity leave and had been running errands, but by midweek I practically tackled him to the ground for the car keys when we realized we needed paper towels.
I sat in the car and thought about my next move. My options were ENDLESS. Should I make it a destination trip and travel the 2.3 miles to Target? Or stay local and hit up Jewel to peruse the bakery and ice cream sections. I sure as hell wasn't going to waste my few minutes of freedom with a gas station trip- I wanted to be somewhere where I felt free.
That's when it hit me: I'll go to Walgreens.
I don't know what it is. The store is nothing special. I don't have a special memory or loved one attached to this corporation in any way. But for some reason, Walgreens is my happy place. A friend of mine once asked me where I go to for a sense of calm. I thought about it for a moment, and blurted out Walgreens. She made me dig deeper as to why (she's good like that), and I threw out some ideas. The pristine way all of the items are lined up perfectly, or 'faced' (a word I learned during a brief time working there for my first job in high school) gives me a sense of calm and order. Call me basic, but there is something about seeing dozens of nail polishes nicely lined up that makes me feel as if my world is less chaotic.
Other stores are nice, but they give me sense of urgency. By the end of my loop around Target, I have a cartload of crap and get a meltdown considering if I should buy 3 things of paper towels to get the $5 gift card. Grocery stores make me feel like a failure because I am not a cook and I am usually hungry, so my cart often looks like the bin the cashiers use for items that need to be restocked-mismatched items that don't go together for a decent meal.
But Walgreens is different. Walgreens doesn't give you that sense of urgency. You don't leave the store with a cart full of crap. Do they even have carts? I always use the baskets. Walgreens is nice and clean and has pretty makeup and that aisle with seasonal things that I can walk down and gaze at, without feeling like I need to buy everything to survive an apocalypse. I feel like Goldilocks entering the right bed -- not too big, not to small, just right. I was halfway through the aisles when I started missing my new baby, but felt relieved to know that the line was short and I was close to home. It was the perfect excursion I needed as my first trip away from baby.
Do I like to admit that a retail store is my place of zen? No. Do I wish I was a more in-depth person who found a church or nature park that made her happy? Yes. But churches have mass too early and nature paths have bugs, which is why the next time I need a mental break, I will be somewhere between the makeup aisle and photo counter, with a candy bar in my basket.