Saturday, January 07, 2006

sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name

Today I went jogging in my new ‘hood. I jogged almost all the way to my ‘hood-before-last. There is something about not having a windshield between you and your world that makes your world more yours.

My other neighborhood-related goal for the day was to go to the market across the street from me. It has a real name, but in my head it’s named “Aceptamos Estampillas.” I’d been focusing on the bad parts of having a market across the street (it’s a hangout for folks in need of a quick beer), but it’s actually really convenient. And whenever I walk to a grocery store and buy just one bag of food, I feel very European. I discovered that it’s not just beer and Doritos—there’s a little deli and all sorts of spices, and paint rollers if I need one. And there’s a gorgeous mural on the side of the building.

After strolling the aisles and taking inventory, I took my four-pack of toilet paper to the cash register, and the clerk said, “Are you new? You were walking around like you were new.” I said that I’d just moved in across the street and wanted to see what the store had.

“Because this other guy came in this morning and he was new,” said the clerk.

“Oh,” I said. “Um, yeah, I don’t know him. Maybe I’ll meet him,” I added brightly in an attempt to show how enthusiastic I was about my new neighborhood.

Secretly, I was a little disturbed that customers’ comings and goings were so carefully noted. As much as I love the idea of the corner-store-where-everyone-knows-everyone, I treasure my anonymity. When the guy at Starbucks started guessing my order before I’d placed it (“Let’s see…tall soy hot chocolate?”), I quickly switched to a different “usual.”

So I did what any self-respecting Angeleno would do: I got in my car, turned on the air-conditioning and drove several miles to a giant chain grocery store.

Actually, it was Trader Joe’s, and, sorry, but you just can’t get Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus cereal for $2.49 anywhere else. I felt a surge of SoCal pride when I overheard a recent transplant hold up a box and say to his wife/girlfriend, “This would be $6 in New York!”

West Siiiide!

(If you enjoy posts about the likes of grocery shopping, check out the first installment of Carnival of the Mundane
.)

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