The latest exciting
chapter in Lia’s series of open letters to places, not people.
Dear Fresh & Easy,
For the last few months, the area beneath my apartment has
undergone some serious construction to which I truthfully never paid any
attention. The irony in my indifference, even annoyance, toward your building
process can only be likened to that of an infant who has no idea that the awful noise coming through the hospital wall is actually the sound of his/her future
soul mate being born. Just let that sink in.
Even when you first opened for business, I, like an idiot,
tried to play it cool and told myself I was too busy to check you out; that
maybe later this weekend I’d take a look. And even after hearing nothing but
wonderful things about you, I insisted on waiting for reasons I can’t even
really remember. What a fool I was.
Maybe it was supposed to happen that way, though. In my
experience, it seems like this type of thing always happens when I absolutely
least expect it/I’m also hungry. That part is key. So, last Saturday, around
dinnertime, I decided to take the elevator down and pay you a visit.
Before I get into what happened next, I think the emotional
stakes of our meeting require a little bit of back story. For the entirety of
my college career, I’ve never had a car. Sure, I have friends with cars that
are really way too generous about driving me places when I need it, but it’s an
unavoidable fact that my car-less-ness has left me dependent on my companions
in possession of transportation, which makes for sporadic grocery trips often
riddled with guilt when the driver doesn’t actually need anything. To me,
well-timed excursions to the grocery store are like exotic vacations that I
rarely get to go on, which means every time I do, I stock up like it’s Y2K
again. If I really need something in-between, I trek to the other side of this
giant building to get to CVS, where I can reliably discover that they have milk
but also don’t have that thing I really need. Carrying cheese, for instance, is
not CVS’ strong suit. Reasonably priced fruit that’s meant to last you longer
than 5 minutes? Not CVS. I don’t blame CVS though, and never did. CVS was never meant to be a serious source of food because that’s just not who it is. It takes care of plenty of other needs, like medicine and shampoo and eyeliner. I accepted it because it was all I had, and until last Saturday I went on living life thinking
it didn’t get any better than that.
The moment I first walked into Fresh & Easy, I heard
music. Literally. Your speaker system/music selection is great. More
importantly though, in one sweeping glance I understood that heaven exists
several floors below where I sleep every night. Seriously, holy shopping bag, Batman! You were absolutely radiant and
beautiful. Row by row, I learned that it’s possible to make everything look
delicious if you do it right, and boy do you ever. You had things I didn’t even know I wanted until
you showed me. And the selections! Oh the selections! There was no messing
around with ridiculous exotic brands that no one actually wants: no, with you,
everything you had to offer looked like something I could eat in the
foreseeable future. You even managed to make raw meat look like something I
could easily whip up into something edible just because of the friendly packaging and prices. After I
took home my first Fresh & Easy meal and had a taste, I knew it was all real and not just
While I would not want Fresh & Easy to be the descriptors
for any young man I might encounter, I rejoice at your association with these
words in the context of food. And rejoice is exactly what I do when I stare at
the aisles that are well-stocked with everything I could possibly want or need.
Pure, eye watering joy. Never again will I need to secure a car ride or walk an
entire block away in pursuit of sustenance, much less really freaking great sustenance. That reality is probably what makes your sudden appearance in my life so emotional.
Now, with summer looming ever nearer, I know we don’t have
much time together, but I promise you this: I will make the most of what we do
have left to make you as happy as you’ve made me. I already signed up for one
of those membership cards and everything. Now, either I’m crazy or this is how it feels to fall head-over-heels
in love with a grocery store.
I think you know the answer.