Its bright red concentric circles beckon to land me squarely in the store. The aroma of freshly made popcorn and your choice of hot or cold, legally addictive, caffeinated beverages magically combine to infuse the air and make you feel like you want to stay a while. It provides ample opportunities to people watch a slightly trendier, but still as strange, menagerie of folks than it’s yellow-sparked logo competitor. At any given time, it probably has more tattoo and pierced skin shoppers with hipster haircuts than any other place in town. Home goods, furniture, clothes, undergarments, electronics, books, toys and games, food, candy, lotions and potions, a pharmacy, cleaning products, pet supplies, seasonal decor, greeting cards…pretty much everything a first world, middle class, 21st century human needs to function in our consumerist society.
I used to be able to drive myself to this shopping mecca and make my way through any aisle I chose at a leisurely pace. When my cart was full and I had breathed in all the buttery-laced air I wanted, I could stand around in the check-out lane with no worry of how long it would take to pay, walk back to my car, and put all the bags in the backseat before finally driving home. I could also bring the bags into the house, empty the contents, and, one by one, put them away into their respective places without care for how much energy I expended.
That was then and this is now.
It’s been well over three years since I dared to make this excursion on my own. Like so many other things when living with MS, doing activities on my own didn’t abruptly stop. My independence diminished similar to how individual flurries accumulate in a gently falling, long, slowly moving snowstorm. Flake by tiny flake they collected until one day I found myself buried under the avalanche of symptoms, and shopping on my own became yet another task that fell into the “insurmountable” category.
Nowadays, my hubby chauffeurs me into town and parks in one of the handicap spots conveniently located close to the door. He drags my wheelchair out of the trunk and together we spin our way through the store. I hate riding in those motorized wheelchairs with a basket on the front that beep every time you need to turn around or want to see something behind you. Instead, I’ve learned the art of balancing two handbaskets on my lap, fitting everything we need into them for the week. More difficult still has been learning to compromise and change our individually-preferred shopping styles in order to make our weekly Target run pleasant for both of us. I’ve (mostly) given up my insistence that he push me at a leisurely pace through each isle of my favorite sections. In turn, he has (mostly) stopped whizzing me so quickly that we leave two-wheeled skid marks on the tile. Sometimes we settle on him leaving me in one aisle near something I want to look at while he flies through two or three other aisles.
This approach has fairly easily carried over to other shopping venues like the grocery store and DIY stores. Someday I hope it will overflow into shopping for clothes at department stores, but I’m not holding my breath. I have to admit that watching someone else shop for clothes has a limited entertainment value. However, it is kind of fun to ride through the rest of the mall so fast that you can’t tell if the blue-haired people you pass are teenagers or grandmas!