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Quarantine grocery shopping

One of my favorite authors is Glennon Doyle and for years she has repeated the mantra,"We can do hard things."Lovely, isn't it? In fact, so lovely, I have not only embraced it but also actually believed that I could do hard things.

Unfortunately, it seems hard things may not be the area I need guidance and assistance these days. Apparently, during quarantine life, I cannot do easy things.

I took a highly anticipated trip to the grocery store yesterday. The kids had cleared out most of the snacks several days ago and, although a plumber's nightmare, flush-able wipes were also at a seriously low level. Both bring on a crisis of ridiculous proportions to the male occupants of this house.

Aside from my inability to remember reusable bags and coupons for nearly every shopping trip in the past 10 years, I would classify myself as an expert-level grocery shopper. Not only can I carry a ridiculous amount of bags from my car to my kitchen in one trip, I am also as fast and efficient as any top contestant on an episode of Supermarket Sweep shopping through the aisles. Until yesterday, this had always served me well.

I was so excited at the prospect of leaving the house, I not only showered, but also washed my hair and put on myfancyworkout clothes. They have never really seen the inside of a gym and dashing through the grocery store is about the most exercise they will ever get to see. I vetoed makeup not only because it would fracture my exercise image, but it also causes extreme suspicion from my kids when I wear makeup or jeans and now is not the time to add any additional stress to their lives.

My jolly mood marched on as I pulled up and scored one of only four normal-sized parking spots this grocery store offers. Ever tried parking a Suburban in a spot built for a Prius? It ain't easy and I have, more than once, had to climb into my car from the passenger side at this specific store after being pinned in by an actual Prius.

I had even picked a fully functional grocery cart on my first try, which was CRAZY! I really believed this was the equivalent of locating the holy grail. You could search for it knowing that you would probably never find it and just needed to have faith that it actually existed. I usually spend at least five minutes trying out carts before giving up, grabbing the one with the least jacked-up wheel and then cursing at it under my breath for the next hour. Never had I located one that not only made rightandleft hand turns equally, but also had the ability to be pushed straight with ease and didn't emit a sound like I was dragging a half-dead bird through the store.

Upon entering, I thought to myself,damn, when did grocery stores start playing such good music?I sang along to Coldplay and shimmied through the produce aisles. I will admit, even with the sweet sound of Chris Martin serenading, things seemed a bit tense. A few people quickly hurried away as I was exiting aisles they were attempting to enter. An elderly couple gave me a questionable glance as I carefully bagged the one and only banana bunch to have touched my man hand fingertips. I received a couple eye rolls as another customer and I almost collided carts.Not today Satan, not today,I thought. I understood the apprehension and grumpiness given the current state of affairs.

A few aisles in, another woman adorning rubber gloves, stared me down as I smiled and passed her and thought to myself,she must be admiring my fancy workout clothes. I gave her a pass concerning the fact she was ineffectively using rubber gloves, having half removed one to scroll through her phone while holding the phone with the other rubber gloved hand. I telepathically tried to send her where to purchase the outfit, while also mentally instructing her to still wash her hands and wipe her phone down when she got home.

After unsuccessfully not finding hand sanitizer in aisle 13 for the sixth week in a row, I stopped at the pharmacy. The blooming trees had led to a daily question: Is it Coronavirus or allergies? I waited my turn at the designated six-foot safe location and casually perused the store. I noticed an arrow painted on the floor of the aisle I had just exited. Anarrow, pointing in the opposite direction than I had just been heading. A quick scan reveals that EVERY aisle in the store has a pointedarrowpainted on the floor and 90 percent of them face the opposite direction I had chosen to travel.

After a little investigating, I quickly come to the conclusion that the produce aisle had been a complete free for all. Maybe it was my excitement as the driver of the holy grail cart, but I darted around that section the way my youngest darts around a playground after I tell him it's time to leave. Then it seemed while I had been on the right track heading down aisle one, that success was short lived once I skipped aisle two, ultimately leading to some type of unintended, rogue journey through the remainder of the store. These people had been staring at me and avoiding me because I had spent the majority of my trip shopping like some lawless, quarantine bandit on a suicide mission while smiling and nodding at each person along the way.

I decided to finish strong as the finest, rule-abiding shopper on this side of the Mississippi. I momentarily thought about referring to the compass app on my phone but remembered I was flying solo on this trip and my oldest son wasn't here to actually find that app. Even still, I felt confident. I looked at the arrow, down the empty aisle and back again to double check the arrow's direction. Took a deep breath, grabbed the handle on my faith cart and repeated to myself, "You can do hard things."

- Shannon Armenis

Shannon Armenis is a stay-at-home mom to three boys. Between breaking up fights, forgetting to fold laundry in the dryer and cleaning toilets, she likes to sneak in a little time for writing on her blogMother lover.

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