I found something entirely unexpected at Target today.
Target, otherwise known as Targét (mais oui), is a lovely indulgence. My husband jokes about my affection for Target, but I don’t mind. He’s completely right. (Yes, Dear, I did put that in writing.)
Target has been there for me from Day 1, and stayed around way longer than Santa and the Easter Bunny. It was where I stood in a long, snaking line outside one early Sunday morning way back in elementary school, when my mom and I skipped church (gasp!) to wait for my first Cabbage Patch Kid. That was crazy exciting. I still remember running through the doors, to the right and straight back toward the toy aisle, to claim one of the identical bald dolls sporting a yellow onesie. Whitney Oscar wasn’t the most interesting looking Cabbage Patch I collected during my childhood career, but he was my first, and I adopted him at Target.
Up the escalator to Target, we went as teens, after buying our movie tickets. We’d snag the cheaper (yet still yummy) candy and drinks for the show, and then sneak them past the ticket-collecting guy under our puffy ‘80’s Minnesota jackets.
And it was Target that kindly asked my friend Sus and I to leave one fine Saturday, after we were discovered gleefully, wildly pushing each other around in carts. (Sus, you brightened the world. You are missed.)
Good memories from Target.
And there was only Target back then. I rarely saw a K-Mart growing up, and I think the first time I set foot in a Walmart was when my husband and I moved to South Texas. I saw many a steer and tamale in Texas, but Targét was hard to come by.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when we were sent to North Carolina. I went ahead to scout out a house. And as it turned out (coincidence?), the house we chose was just a hop, skip, and a jump, as they say, from Target. I usually drove, though, because I’m lazy (as clearly outlined in an earlier post).
And so it was that one day Target morphed from my childhood playground into my adult refuge.
Sure, it offered affordable pillows, plush baby toys, and colorful placemats. But more importantly, it provided a desperately needed diversion from everything outside its walls. I’d float through the red doors and lean on that cart like I’d just ran a marathon (in actuality, I definitely did not). Shoulders sloped over the handle and butt jutting out behind me, I’d saunter peacefully around the place (can one saunter with a shopping cart?). I loved perusing monochromatic home collections, affordable clothes my kids would outgrow in 4 months, and of course tempting sale items shelved at the ends of every aisle.
I went there so often, back in NC, that our first son named it when he was still a little guy.
“Are we going to Circle-and-Dot now?” He’d call out from the middle seat of our purple minivan. (Yeah, it was purple. And it was cool.)
Our pre-k boy would attempt to vault the big red cement balls out front before sweeping into Circle-and-Dot, clad in the navy blue cape my mother-in-law made for him – all covered with stars and moons and planets. He was comfortable, there in Target, bouncing around and chatting as if he was in his own living room. And that cape made more than a few people smile.
Alas, then one day we moved to a remote desert.
Define remote, you ask? Remote: nothing but dust, tumble weeds, and Joshua trees for miles upon miles upon miles. Except for the odd broken-down shack by the road that couldn’t have ever been actually lived in. Must’ve been put there for filming one of those took-a-wrong-turn-and-met-crazy-inbred-murderers movies.
Define desert, too? Desert: where the searing hot burning sun beats down about 362.5 days of the year. Some excellent people live there. I’m not sure why.
Oh, and there was no Target in sight.
We roasted in the desert for years. Every now and then, often on a Sunday around 4pm, to avoid frightening our neighbors with my screams of insanity, I’d babble something like, “you…kids…got ‘em?” to my husband as I grabbed my purse and bolted to the car, driving 80 miles through open dusty emptiness, past windmill farms and through cellphone dead zones, just for a few minutes of civilization, of pleasant lollygagging around a friendly nowhere-near-my-neighborhood Target. I’m not kidding.
But now we’re back on the East Coast, snuggled just a few miles from a Circle-and-Dot.
I frequent my local everything-store often, although I rarely have time to really enjoy it. I’m usually busy when I pass through the red doors, with a nagging schedule or a kid needing my attention. But today was an exception. The kids were tucked away in their respective schools and I had the gift of an extra day off, so I thought I’d “just run into Target quickly” to pick up a prescription.
I was productive, really. I did scan the grocery list on my phone and check off a few things. But then the cart started moving on its own, as if a hurricane had hit somewhere between the lunchbox aisle and the book aisle, erratic winds pushing me into unplanned territory. I weaved through ladies pajamas and boys’ socks, until eventually I stood in front of men’s t-shirts.
And that’s where I made a friend.
It appears I’d underestimated my fair Targét. I expected it to simply supply my groceries, medicines, toiletries, movies, and clothing. I had even expected diversion, escape, leisurely perusing while leaning heavily on a cart. But then Target went and somehow began supplementing my social life, as well. Believe me, this is no easy task for a transient introvert like myself.
A stranger and I stood inspecting t-shirts, unfolding and re-folding, holding them up to our own torsos (as if that helped anything), trying to decide if our teenagers would accept these mom-picks. And then we began talking. About spring breaks and schools, YouTube and music, allergies we had in common, sports and flying things.
We exchanged e-mails after more than two hours of chatting, and I think we’ll meet for lunch sometime. I wonder if I’ll be as friendly, as outgoing, if we meet on some other grounds, outside of Targét.
Maybe it’s something about the air in Target that brings me out of my shell. Maybe it’s the happy adverts hanging overhead, the bright décor and clean aisles, the support of a cart under my arms, holding me up just a little when I need it.
Thanks, Circle-and-Dot. I’ll be back soon.