It’s all about the Pickles

By Lynn Ingram

It is an ordinary Tuesday in September, a pretty day, just before the calendar flips over to fall. I am at the grocery store, Food Lion, to be specific, having come for an ordinary mid-week shopping trip, just to pick up a few things.

Well, that’s not exactly correct, the “ordinary” part. This shopping trip, like others lately, is not quite the same as all my other grocery shopping trips over the past couple of decades. On those shopping trips, I was shopping for me, selecting just the things that I wanted – or that I thought I should want, when I was trying to be especially healthy. And generally speaking, most of my grocery selections were healthy ones – except when I willfully decided I wanted to eat some “bad” stuff – tortilla chips, or full-fat chocolate ice cream, or frozen pizza. Or peanut butter. I have a peanut butter addiction. No jar of peanut butter is safe for more than a day or two in my house.

Now, I am learning to shop differently, because I am not just shopping for me any more. There is a man in my life – a wonderful and beautiful and precious man – and these days, I am cooking for us (what a pretty word: us!), not just for me. And, my wonderful man has some health concerns, so I am learning to shop differently. I am reading the sodium levels and putting stuff back when that’s really high. I am buying no more dairy products and no bread. I am buying lots of vegetables, and we are eating lots of salads. I am trying to figure out creative and new protein sources. We have hit upon a few things that we really like, but I am always looking for variety.I see some really pretty radishes in the produce section. I never buy radishes, as I’m not particularly fond of them. I do remember, though, that when I have eaten them, I’ve been surprised at how okay they really are – crunchy, kinda peppery – so I’m thinking maybe we could have some on a salad.

But I don’t know if he likes radishes either, so I text him: “Do you like radishes?”

He replies: “Not so much.”

So I pass on the radishes, leave them there looking pretty on their shelf. But this has made me smile: There I am, texting my sweetheart from the grocery store about what we might eat, trying to be healthy, making choices together.

Now I’ve arrived at the pickle aisle. Pickles are on sale. I never buy pickles. My sweetie keeps his refrigerator full of pickles. He loves them. So I think, okay, I should buy some pickles.

So I text him: “What kind of pickles do you like? Kosher dills? How about jalapeno dills?”

And he responds: “Kosher dills. Never had jalapeno ones, but willing to try.”

And then I spy the savory garlic dills. We both love garlic, so I text: “How about savory garlic dills?”

He texts back: “Pretty much savory garlic anything!”

I texted back: “Yeah, I knew those were a winner!” and I add a smiley face.

And now, here in the Food Lion, right here in the pickle aisle with the savory garlic dills and kosher spears and jalapeno dills, I have tears trickling down my cheeks. Why am I crying in the pickle aisle? And smiling while my cheeks get all wet.

These are happy tears, heart overflowing tears. I am crying because of this pickle texting conversation we just had is so ordinary – and it is so wonderful in its ordinariness. Before today, I have never texted a man from a grocery store to inquire about what he would like to eat. I have tears in my eyes, right here in the grocery store, because I am doing something happily married women do all the time. By texting, or maybe with a phone call, those women communicate with their husbands about ordinary subjects like “What’s for supper?”

That everyday, ordinary communication about such quotidian things as what might be on the table tonight is as plain a thing as a slice of white bread – and it is also as huge a thing as a rainbow. It’s life, a slice of life. It’s sharing life with another person whom I love and who loves me back.

And it is so beautiful.

And it is happening to me, and I can’t believe it. I had hoped for, dreamed about, wished for, prayed for this for so many years. So many times, it seemed easier to just give up hope and resign myself to a life lived alone.

But this wonderful man appeared in my life, and we fell in love, and it appears he is here to stay.

And I am so grateful and so blown away – and so in awe at all the ways that his presence makes life so much more beautiful.

It’s not about the big things.

It’s about the pickles.

About this writer

  • Lynn Ingram

    Lynn Ingram

    Lynn Ingram’s writing has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Progressive Farmer, Lake Wylie Magazine, and a number of other publications, including Cape Fear Living Magazine, for which she writes a monthly column. She teaches psychology at UNCW and sees clients in her private psychology practice in Wilmington. She has recently resumed acting at TheatreNOW, and she’s on the verge of becoming an avid contra dancer.

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