Milk Run II

"You should tell the story about how you can't buy milk." I had no idea what Joyce was talking about. Of course I can buy milk.

"You know-when I have to rescue you?" Joyce chuckled. "I can see you twenty years from now, wondering if you'll ever be able to buy milk."

I'm not walking out of the store without milk. No distractions today, just in and out. I have to buy milk.

I know I can manage on my own, I just need to be quick, and I must stay focused.

On the drive to the grocery store, I keep repeating the mantra: milk, nothing else, milk, nothing else. Walking into the grocery store, I tell myself: milk, milk, milk. And then I turn right. Oops, the shortest way to the milk aisle is to the left. I need to turn around, but the produce section is in sight, and it looks like they have a particularly wide variety of apples. I could use some apples. I'll just get apples and then go straight to the milk.

They don't have any Honey Crisps. Should I go with Galas, Jonathans, Fujis? I'm not sure, I really prefer Honey Crisps. I know I don't want Red Delicious or Golden Delicious-too mealy. I'm definitely passing on the Granny Smiths. I wish they had Honey Crisps. What about Pink Ladies?

I move onto the berries. I'll go organic. No strawberries for me. What about blueberries? Or raspberries? Maybe I should get blackberries, I haven't had those in a while. I finally choose blueberries to scatter on top of my morning granola.

Next, my eyes and nose are drawn to the bakery. Multi-grain? French bread? Potato onion? I'll just take the...uh...uh...Oh they have sourdough—I'll take that.

As I pass the toiletries I recall that Sarah's completely out of conditioner. I swerve around a cart holding a couple of gallons of milk. I mustn't forget the milk, I'd better go right to the milk. But Sarah really needs conditioner. No, I should forgo the conditioner. I always run into trouble when I include toiletries in my shopping trips.

I take stock of my state of mind. I'm still fine, handling sensory input with little to no trouble. I'll be fine. I'll head over to get the milk right after the conditioner. While I'm rolling my cart towards the hair product section, I catch sight of the pharmacy. Do I need to pick up any meds? The line is long and I'm not up to waiting. I do need more Tylenol. Am I okay on Advil? I pick up a bottle of each to play it safe.

Oh yes, conditioner. I might as well buy some shampoo while I'm here. What flavor should I go for? Kiwi, coconut, apple? What about rosemary? I'm becoming flustered. Coconut is soothing, I toss it into the cart. I mustn't forget the conditioner. There seem to be even more brands of conditioner than there are of shampoo. I don't know anything about conditioner, I don't use it. How do I choose? By flavor? Is there a brand she particularly likes? It's too much, I can't deal with this.

Milk is a higher priority.

I pass hummus on the way to the milk. Original, spicy, pine nuts and olive oil, garlic and herb. My hand hovers over them, then lands on the original, and hesitates: do I want family size or the smaller one? I choose the smaller one.

Leaving the international food aisle behind me, I note that my motions have become a wee bit stiff, a tad jerky. I mustn't forget the milk. I have to get to the milk.

I deliberately turn my back on the rice that catches my eye. Another shopper brushes past me. I swerve to avoid a man standing in my way and almost lose my balance. I'm feeling a bit hemmed in by the traffic. I need to get out of here. I make a u-turn but my path is blocked by a store employee stocking the shelves. Should I turn around? Squeeze past? I...I'm not sure what to do.

I have to get to the milk.

I'm starting to feel lightheaded, my breathing is shallow, my limbs feel leaden—I cannot ignore these symptoms. I lean heavily on the cart. I try to think—I need milk, but I'm in bad shape, on the verge of full blown sensory overload. If I get the milk, will I be able to get through the checkout without calling attention to myself? Should I chance it? I came to the store specifically for the milk.

Another decision, another choice; I can't take it. I feel the tears well up. I'd better escape now, before the tears spill over. I have to get out of here before I reach the point where I can't find my way out. I have to leave. Now.

Yet again, I exit the grocery store without milk.