With my two boys in the shopping cart—the kind with the mock police car in place of the baby seat—we raced down empty aisles in the supermarket, me revving the engine. They gripped their little steering wheels and laughed, the velocity tilting their heads back. At the end of the aisle, they shouted in unison, “Again!”
We did a few laps, until someone came down the aisle. It was a short stop for milk and yogurt—not a complete grocery run—and it wasn’t the Vons we usually go to. This one in was in Pacific Beach, where I lived in my twenties.
Back then, we (meaning roommates, ex-girlfriends, and the now-forgotten crew of party pals) would shop there to get beer, booze, chips, and meat. On Pacific Beach’s Garnet Avenue, this is the glamour Vons, equivalent to a grocer smack in the middle of Miami’s South Beach.
In there with my children, the place seemed foreign to me, although the same characters of my youth were there: packs of young men and flocks of girls on the hunt, young couples, last-night’s party victims, retirees, and tourists. There weren’t many dads with kids in tow. I was definitely out of place, and I got the looks to prove it.
While those reckless bachelor days come racing back in places like the Pacific Beach supermarket, the memories don’t compare to the moments made with my two, best new buds. The quick visit was a reminder that savoring adulthood and fatherhood is earned, and that being a child again is as easy as letting go of the past, and harnessing the present.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.