I have to tell you about my new grocery store. There are a few things you need to know about me first. One, I like food. Not a shocker. Two, I'm a gourmet cook at heart who does not actually like to cook. But when I look at a Williams-Sonoma catalog my heart rate increases. Maybe if I had a kitchen stocked with all that cool stuff, my inner chef would surface. Three, I am a very loyal person and I stay true to certain brands and stores for years on end. (Like the Clearsil face wash I've been using since sixth grade.) Now that you know those things, I will proceed.
My mother has been shopping at the same Kroger for more than 20 years. There are some very nice Kroger Signature stores in the area, but hers is not particularly special. It is just a normal grocery store. So since I am loyal to my mom and she is loyal to Kroger, I get two loyalty points for also being a Kroger shopper.
There was a Kroger in the community I just moved from. As far as Krogers go, this one was perhaps the least cherished and cared for by the Kroger Corp. I could have driven up the road 15 minutes to a ridiculously ritzy Tom Thumb in Las Colinas, or to the Minyard's which was a step up from my Kroger, or to the Super Target in Janelle's neighborhood for my grocery needs. But no, I remained a Kroger shopper. I made myself love my Kroger and I devoted myself to being the best Kroger shopper in the neighborhood. In fact, when I swiped my Kroger card, the employees often marveled at how many coupons the coupon generator would award me with and say, "Wow, you shop here a lot!" Yes, yes I do. I proudly shop at this Kroger.
Now there was a lovely Central Market over in Southlake and we had playdates and lunches there about once a month. I know that sounds strange, but they had a full-out restaurant and playground on one side of the store. Sushi and burgers were always on the menu. So good. Every time I went into the Central Market, a piece of me died. My heart longed to shop in such a neat place. I just had to focus on the impracticality of it because while Central Market has interesting food, you can't even buy stuff like toilet paper, diapers, or paper towels there. I'd have to go to Walmart for those things and do you know how I feel about Walmart? NOT LOYAL.
At the end of January we drove down to Houston to see about buying this house. After we had seen it and fallen in love with it, we ran over to the neighborhood grocery store - an H.E.B. - to get me some tea and a pregnancy test. I had been nauseous for a week and thought something unexpected was up. (It wasn't.) I went into the store by myself while Curt waited in the car. When I entered the store, I discovered to the delight of my heart and to the praise of our glorious God that this was an HEB/Central Market hybrid. OH MY WORD. Could there be anything more wonderful in the world of grocery shopping? No, no there couldn't. They had every benefit of a Central Market along with the practical things people really do need. (Let's not pretend we don't need diapers and toilet paper and air freshener and occasionally even a plunger.)
As I walked through the beautiful aisles of my soon-to-be new grocery store, my heart became overwhelmed. I fought back tears the entire time and as I exited the building I could hold them back no longer. I was bawling. Over a grocery store. Curt saw me and immediately thought I was pregnant. He was no doubt freaking out a bit. Somewhere in the snarfling and snorting, he heard "I can't believe I get to shop here...It's just so beautiful...Blah blah blah, whah, whah, whah." Admittedly, it sounds pathetic and ridiculous, but it really did come from a thankful heart.
Today I got to be with a dear friend named Jennifer H. She has been a part of my life for the past 10 years and is just an awesome Titus woman. She is about five years older than me, so I have watched her closely as she's gone through every new stage - college graduation, career, newlywed life, becoming a mom - knowing I would be there before long. The Lord brought her and her husband to College Station when I was in school and we lived a couple streets away from each other. It was so much fun. Now we are living just a couple streets away from each other again! The Lord is so cool!
I told Jen that back in college when a new HEB opened up in College Station, I thought she and her friends were so weird for getting up at 6 a.m. to be there when they opened the doors for the first time. I could not, for the life of me, understand why anyone would get so excited about a grocery store. I mean, come on! (Ha ha!) I did not feel like I could continue in our friendship if I didn't confess my hypocrisy to Jennifer today. It was deeply humbled to confess that I had indeed wept over the splendor of my new HEB. So here I am eating my words. But you know what? They are organic, gourmet, and nicely packaged!