Without getting into the weeds with all this beauty around me. I want to note how this empty parking lot I’m sitting in, how it looks like a wet silver mirror shining up at the newly emptied sky.It’s reflecting the air over a buttoned up Mormon church and a me looking up through the beads of water on my windshield. There’s a couple of clear, empty fountain drink cups rolling aimlessly to keep things humble. Not as if it was pastoral or anything. But they’re maybe here to remind me that I’m getting carried away with my writing.
I’m parked here crooked over the blue wheelchair painted spot. I find myself needing to find myself out loud to you. To share something that might hopefully warm your ears, as mine have been warmed by others in moments like this. Times where I’ve needed to not feel alone and been kept company by stories over the radio.
Lately I have felt more than ever, the need to share my quotidian life with someone that’s not me. To bring you with while I wander around in grocery stores, whether I need anything or not. Whether I’m alone or with someone I think is interesting. I do that a lot now. It relaxes me. So that’s what I decided to call this new iteration of the podcast.
Over these next few episodes of Wandering the Aisles you’ll hear the arrogant project of a man who thinks his loneliness and pain is brand-able. That it’s interesting. Worth something. Because it has to be. Somebody has to get something from this. Or at least they’ll get something from the not-something-ness of it.
See, now this lady walking by is looking at me. For some reason, talking out loud into a visible tape recorder is more suspect than just shouting into the air of the car cabin like you’re on speaker phone. Nobody knowing if you’re actually talking to anything. Why is this more suspicious. Maybe I just feel suspicious. Because I kind of am. I’m curious about what I’m up to as well.
I have spent so much time in cars over the last couple years. Mine. I’ve had two actually. One I sold after a recent breakup. Was an older 4-Runner. Gray. The one we went camping in. It reminded me too much so I sold it. Also, it was rusting underneath.
I ended up selling it in a hurry to a couple in a hurry on a Saturday. In the lobby at the bank to do the money stuff, the lady part of the couple told me about her gambling problem. And her buying things compulsively problem. Her words, not mine. She told me those things were a problem the way you do when you’re disclosing that you have a problem that’s bad, but the problem hasn’t made you lose that one thing yet. You’re telling on yourself casually because you sense you’re in trouble with this problem, but you haven’t lost the precious thing yet. The thing it’s so painful to lose that it makes you give up on the idea that you can ever stand to lose any more things because of your problem. That was the way she told me. That was the sound of her problem.
It occurred to me that buying this 4-Runner with the rust underneath was, for her, maybe the perfect confluence of the buying things problem and the gambling problem. She was buying something that was a gamble. And I was gambling that selling it would help me get over everything.
They were headed to Wendover for the weekend. To get comped a lot, she said. I’d be surprised how much they got comped, she said. They being her and her quiet husband.
I can’t say I didn’t judge them. The couple buying my car. The one I was selling because it reminded me too much of the person. They were overweight, high-rollers in Wendover. But they were still together. Which was more than I could accomplish. Having that aura of a still-togetherness with somebody. They seemed happy in their own way. Like they had an arrangement.
In fact, I’m here in the parking lot where they first came to look at my rusting 4-Runner the day before the hurried Saturday. They had been the one prospective buyer out of a dozen before them that didn’t actually look underneath the thing. And not to shame, but I think it was only because they were too fat to get down underneath and look. To get down there would be a whole thing. Of pulling up pants and breathing a lot after looking into the dark mechanical shadows. I can speculate about that kind of thought process because I used to be fat, too. That fat actually. Their kind of fat. Which is the kind that seriously contemplates getting down below knee level because there is only so much energy and self esteem.
Now there’s an Amish-looking kid with his girlfriend doing doughnuts in a Jeep on the slippery, tarred pavement. He looks very serious about it. She looked captive. Are you showing off or holding a woman hostage, dude? Was he blowing off steam about some festering tension between them, I wondered? I looked up from my monologue every time they circled past me to get up to speed for the doughnuts. Gave the guy a thumbs up on one of the circles and it was not reciprocated.
More people walking across the lot now. And, I’m starting to feel like a private detective. So it’s time for me to go up to my apartment and eat. I will find a spot because this is Salt Lake City. My home for now. To close up some old wounds and to feel safe where there is an abundance of spaces. Salt Lake is a murder of empty spaces.
So strap in and get ready to solve some riddles together. Like why it is that on Mondays at the Smith’s on 6th avenue there’s usually a box of tampons in the freezer section. Or why I keep coming back to grocery stores to figure things out.
In NY I couldn’t wander aisles you know. You couldn’t really do it in a bodega. You don’t have too much time. You can’t really stroll. The cat doesn’t like it. Actually the cat doesn’t fucking care unless you look like you have milk and know a lot of important other cats.
Maybe I wander these places because my mom left me at the IGA in Normal, Illinois, one time and I’m still trying to be found. Regardless, there’s oceans of aisles to wander together.