December 1, 2006
This morning I ran out to Target in the middle of a blizzard to buy some boots. I woke up to 6" of snow--the first snowfall of the year-- and panicked when I realized that 1) the kids have the day off from school and 2) they have no boots. None.
Now this statement begs so many questions from you that I will answer them one by one.
How can you not have boots in December? Do you live in Arizona? Umm, err, no. I live in the Chicago area and I have lived in the midwest my entire life.
Why didn't you just cram last year's too-tight-boots on your kids' feet until the blizzard ended? Well, yes, this would be the normal thing to do but I foolishly threw last year's boots out at the end of the season, including my own, in a cleaning frenzy.
Did you say you threw boots away? Yes, sorry, I usually observe the unwritten, universal law of passing the boots on to the neighbor's children but this batch was particularly ratty and I didn't have the heart to saddle anyone with them.
Why didn't you wait until the blizzard stopped? Guilt. I felt guilty knowing that the kids would wake up and see the first snowfall and not be able to go outside right away. Also, I've made this mistake before and I know that by mid-day, you will not be able to buy, beg, borrow, or steal a pair of boots on the entire North Shore.
So there you have it. That's why I was at the door of Target at 8:00 am--the first, and only customer-- since no one else was stupid enough to go out in a blizzard. The manager chuckled and said, "You win the most dedicated customer award." At least I think he said dedicated. Maybe he said "demented". I felt a response was needed.
"Boots," I said by way of explanation. "Not one of us has a pair of boots!" I considered telling him we'd just been transferred here from Africa because only foreigner or an idiot can be found wearing tennis shoes in December in Chicago. But I resisted.
He was polite enough not to ask any of the above, italicized questions and instead just said, "They're over there," pointing towards the shoes (as if I needed directions--I could draw a map of my Target from memory ).
I bought the boots, and the half dozen other things I always manage to "need" when I go to Target and checked out.
In the parking lot I had to schlep the bags to the car because the cart wouldn't go through the snow. I got in the car and immediately got stuck in a snow drift. After about 20 minutes of digging with the handle of a scraper and rocking the car back and forth I was good to go. At one point I thought I was stuck for good like the four laughing young Mexican men in the car next to me who did not grow up in snow and had no idea how to get their car unstuck. But I said to myself, "I am from the midwest, I am from the midwest," until I willed myself out.
When I was driving home I asked myself, "Why am I, once again, running around town looking for boots on the first day of snow? What is it about me that I cannot think about boots until I am actually standing in snow?"
It's just that even though I know we will need boots by December I cannot feel we need them. Especially when we've been enjoying a freakish warm spell of 60 degree weather for a week in November. It's hard for me to buy boots when I don't really believe it could ever snow again.
I have to admit to myself that I ve exhibited similar behavior about other topics. Meals for example. I find it nearly impossible to think about a meal until I'm very hungry. This is problematic as I am the one in charge of making meals for a family of five. For years my husband thought this was a passive-aggressive act on my part. He's so wrong. I have plenty of passive-aggressive acts but failing to feed my family in a timely manner is not one of them.
This went on for years--my family wanting to eat--me not feeding them--until finally, I managed to overcome this deficiency. By sheer force of will, I made myself think about food even when I was not hungry. Now I think about dinner right after breakfast. Sometimes I even take something out to thaw or I put something in the crockpot or I make reservations. But make no mistake, none of this comes naturally to me. My being able to think about dinner at 10:00 in the morning is something akin to an autistic person training himself to hug his mother. We can do it, but it sure doesn't feel right.
I thought of all this as I battled the blizzard on my way home from Target. When I got home I realized I had left my new, favorite, leopard print gloves on a shelf in the boot department, the boots I had bought myself had a broken zipper, and the kids for whom I'd suffered so much were already out in the snow wearing old shoes with plastic bags over them, happily building a snowman.
Next year I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again. I'm saying it here first--this is the last time I wait until the first snowfall to buy boots! I'll overcome this boot-planning weakness just like I overcame my meal-planning deficiency--by sheer force of will. I'm going to order boots online early in the season. I'm going to order those damn boots even if it's a 70-degree day in October.
But it won't feel right.