The Little Things – The Awl

Afewweeksago,Iranouttodosomeerrands。

BecauseIwasaccompaniedbymyfifteen-month-olddaughter,Zelda,wemovedatalanguidpace。

Onmyown,Iwouldhaverushedoutthedoorwithmypurseandsunglassesandcarkeys,pullingmyseatbeltonasIbackedupoutofthedriveway。

Iwouldparkatthepharmacy,dartintopickupaprescriptionandsomenailpolish,“nothanks,Idon’tneedabag!

”andbacktothecar?

—?

ormaybeI’djustwalkoverthefiveminutestothenearestgrocerystore,snagabasket,andracearoundtograbitemsfrommylist,doublingbacktotheproducebecauseI’dforgottenthe?

lemons。

Tripslikethistakecrazyamountsoftimewithababy。

Butthewholeprocess,onceyou’veresignedyourselftospendingtwohoursonerrandsandgottenthelogisticsdowntoascience,canbemuchmoreenjoyable。

ThoughyouhavetopackatotebagofmilkandsnacksanddiapersandabackupoutfitjusttogotoCVS,andthoughyouhavetoloadthebabyinandoutofthecarseatrepeatedly,andtheninandoutofthestrollerorshoppingcartrepeatedly,asmallchildinagrocerystoreisajoy。

LastSaturday,IrealizedZeldahadn’thadapeachsincethedaysofpurees,soIpickedoneoutofthebinandhandedittoherinthecart。

Shesmiledatitsweight,inhaleddeeplytosmellit,andthentriedtobiteintoit。

Babiesrevelinsensoryexperiencesandalargeordecent-sizedgrocerystoreisaperfectone:lotsofpeopleandaction,butspacetomovearound,andaspecialplaceforthemtositthatisHIGHUP。

(Thisgetsveryimportantastheygetolderandrealizetheworldhasn’tbeenmadetotheirspecifications。

)

Thatsaid,Idon’talwayshavetwohourstokillonerrands。

Afewweeksago,Ihadtomakequickstopatthegrocerystoreformilk,runbythepharmacy,andhitthebankforcashtopayahandymanatmyhouse。

Insteadofgrabbingthecashatthegrocerystore’sATM,Iwenttomyownbankinordertoavoidpayingatwo-dollarfee,becauseIjustcannot。

IknewthismeanthaulingZeldabackoutofthecarandintothebank,butIdiditanyway。

Aswepulledaroundtothebackofthebank,InoticedsomethingIhadn’tthoughtaboutinatleastadecade:therewasadrive-upwindow,completewithaspeciallanepaintedintheparkinglot。

Thewindowhadobviouslybeenpermanentlyclosedsomeyearsago:Itwasfoggeduporfilmedover,andithadthegeneralauraof“Hey,I’marelicofthepast!

”surroundingit。

Iknowthatdrive-upbankwindowsstillexist,butthey’redyingoff:There’slessdemandforthem,andthey’reundoubtedlyexpensivetostaffwhentrafficisindecline。

Iremembergoingthroughsomanybankdrive-throughswithmyparentsandgrandparents;someevenhadthoseamazingpneumatictubesystemsthatshotyourcheckupintothebank,likemagic。

IhauledZeldaoutofthecarandintothebank,setherdowninfrontofanATMand,asIwaitedformycash,watchedheramblearoundthebank,bumpingintostrangersandsmilingupat?

them。

LastFriday,ItookZeldatoherpediatricianforacheckup。

ThoughIlivemorethanthirtymilesfromGreenpointnow,IdecidedtotakehertherebecauseIhavebecomeemotionallyattachedtothepractice。

ButforreasonsIwillneverfullyexplore,ratherthandrivetothetrainstationtenminutesfrommyhomeandridetheMetroNorthintothecity,Idecidedtodriveherallthewaytherealone。

Wearrived,sweatyandhungry,twohourslater。

Westrolledinouroldneighborhood,Zeldagothertwoshots,thenwewereonourway。

AswedroveoutofGreenpoint,Irealizedthatweneededtogetgas。

Itwasn’tadesperate,on“E”situation,butIdidn’tfeelliketemptinganout-of-gasexperienceintheheatandtrafficwithababy。

Wepulledintothestation,Igotoutofthecar,andslidmycardthroughthereader,staringatZeldainhercarseat,whowasstillsmilingbecauseshedidn’tknowwehadanothertwohoursoftransportationHellyettogo。

Themachinedidn’ttakemycard。

Iswipedanother。

It“processed”forawhile,thengavemean“Error”message。

Ilookedaroundandrealizedtheotherpatronsofthestationwereexperiencingsimilarfailures,andwereheadinginsidetopaytheattendantdirectly。

Ibackeduptoanotherpump,andtriedasecondcreditcardmachine。

Italsofailed。

“Comeinsidetopay!

”anemployeefromwithinbarkedatmeoverthePAsystem。

IlookedinatZelda;shehadpassedout。

“Ohno,”Ilaughedtomyself,“I’mnothaulingherintherewhenit’spossibleshewillsleepalltheway?

home。



Ican’targuethatwedon’tliveina“convenient”era。

BankofAmericashutdownabunchofdrivethrusbecauseitcould,sincewehaveenteredtheeraof“self-service,”theirPRpersontoldme,andmanypeopleuseappstobankinsteadofgoingintothebuilding。

Icanorderacar,orhavemygroceriesdeliveredtome,findadoctorwhowillcomeovertomyhouse,allfrommyphone。

Butthenewway,thestartup,appway,isjustmeinteractingwithanapp:sometimes,thesedays,whatIneedisanotherhuman’sassistance。

Whenyoubecomeamother,youareoftennoddinggratefullyandthankfullyatpeopleforhelpingyouwithyourstrollerontothesubway,orgivingyouaseatonthebus。

Youfeeloverwhelmedwithlovewhenpeopleholdopenadoorforyou,awomanwithababyinastrollerandabagandapurseonherarm。

Sometimes,too,Ithink,I’dbewillingtopayabitmoreformyeverydayerrandsforalittlehelping?

hand。

WhatwouldIhavepaid,inthatmoment,forafull-servicegasstation?

Anextrafiftycentsagallon?

Maybeanextradollar!

Inpocketsoftheworld,thesesmallconveniencessurelystillexist。

Butit’snotmyoldnessthatmakesmewanttohavethesethingsback,andit’snotnostalgia;Idon’tthinkZeldawillbeanyworseoffforneverhavingseenthepneumatictubescarryachecktothebanktellertwofeetawayfromourcar。

Andit’snotquitelaziness,either;Iamatypeoflazy,butnotthetypethatdoesn’twanttogetoutofhercarpodatallcosts。

Butintheyearandchangesincehavingmybaby,I’verealizedthatthesedumbconveniences,whichneverseemedtomattertometenyearsago,theyservedapurpose:Theywerefortiredmomsjusttryingtogetfiftybucksoratankofgaswithouthaulingamadandtiredbabyinandoutofthecareverythirty?

seconds。

Igotinthecarand,aswepulledaway,gasless,myiPhonerandomlyBluetoothedintomycar’sstereosystemandbeganblasting“Ms。

Wrong”bythatdog。

“Whatisthis,1995?

”Iasked,totheair。

“Hi!

Hi!

Hi!

”Zeldasaidfromthebackseat。

Forasecond,Isortofwishedit?

were。

PhotobyDaniel?


You may also like...