There is something almost grotesque about it. As I stood behind the man in the motorized scooter and waited to relinquish my prescription to the man behind the counter, I shuddered with an incomprehension of our existence. What it all means under the bright lights, among the busy aisles, of the giant Walmart on a Saturday morning.
"I'm sad," I told Mom this morning, having forsaken my plans of a trip home and making a phone call instead. She listened and advised and I clenched my teeth because I just want it to stop - the comments and questions, arguments and tasks, from work and family and friends. I just need to rest, wrapped in a blanket of solitude so that I can be better again.
"Make sure you get your medicine," she said firmly, worry hovering at the edge of each word and I nodded, promising that I would. Unsure of when the pharmacy opened and conversely certain I was unable to endure a lengthy shopping trip, I walked the dog and cleaned my house, feeling distant from my actions even as I watered plants and vacuumed carpets and bagged trash. Unable to bring myself to even make a list, I put on jeans, zipped a sweatshirt over the moderately clean shirt I'd slept in and set off to obtain pills.
I smiled weakly at the man in line ahead of me as he struggled to move out of my way. He hadn't put the device in reverse and the scooter bravely tried to climb the counter when he urged it forward. He finally pushed the right button, grinning when the beeping signaled his backward motion and waved as he set off to shop.
"Hi," I replied to the man behind the counter, behind him various mixtures of compounds in white containers. I handed the crumpled paper that had resided in my console and various pockets because I'd not prioritized this trip to fill it. It's for anxiety - the written prescription - and I watched as he entered it in. "I also have refills," I noted, thinking of the lone capsule at the bottom of my bottle at home. "Fluoxetine." I waited while he frowned at the screen and nodded. "I need both," I confirmed. "40 and 20mg. 3 months of each."
He told me 20 minutes and I thanked him, unable to gather the energy to smile, and walked away. I stood for a moment, toes at the edge of the gray aisle beside the faux-hardwood that marked the pharmacy area, feeling terribly alone and confused and miserably sad. I sighed, absently directing my attention to those around me, wishing one of them could help me. Make me better. Exhausted and discouraged, I forced myself to retrace my steps toward the front door and instead of retreating to my car, I tugged a cart away from the lines in the foyer and began to shop.
I admired the pecan pies in the bakery before picking up bread. I stared at the wall while the trainee in the deli sliced honey ham, managing to smile when he confided I was his first customer at his new job. "Good luck," I offered sincerely and thanked him before setting off to find milk and eggs and the V8 Fusion juice I've grown to enjoy. I looked at books, plucking two from the shelves even as I wondered if I'd muster the attention to read them. I hefted bottled water under the cart, selected treats for the dog and a new scratching toy for the cat and returned to the pharmacy to once again take my place behind scooter man.
"We meet again," I offered when he turned to smile at me.
"Mine isn't ready yet," he replied, motioning me ahead of him so I joined the rather lengthy line as the young worker glanced at the amber containers before tucking them in the white bags, tops folded over and stapled before being placed in waiting hands. I stood beside the man, not wanting to cut in line when it was already rather lengthy. So I watched as the middle aged woman took her bag and pushed her cart to the left. As the elderly woman discussed her medications with the pharmacist who emerged from behind the high counter to help her. As the boy waited with his mother and stared at the toddler with his father behind them.
And then it was my turn. So I gave my name and waited while she pawed through the transparent plastic bags until she found mine. And I stared at the trio of containers, each containing something that might make me better - make life easier - and blinked when she stapled my bag and handed it to me. I placed it in the cart atop my groceries and glanced back when the pharmacist told me to call with any questions.
What's the point? I wanted to reply, for that's my current question. What are we doing here, peering in refrigerated cases and pulling boxes from shelves? And why is it so damnably painful sometimes?
Instead, I nodded and thanked him, grabbing a bottle of shampoo from the shelf as I moved toward the cashiers before taking my purchases outside, the thin white bags surrounding them whispering something incomprehensible in the wind of this moody, cloudy day.