Two posts in one day! Wow, I am on a roll, dear reader. I will possibly post part two of the rant about Exacerbating Ex later. I had this amazing idea to describe what it’s like to go to the store for me because Mr. Oinkers says it’s okay to be vulnerable and I want to feel less shame about how I act. I’m going write this post as the string of thought processes and external stimuli occur to me, so if it seems a bit all over the place, it’s only because it is.
Before I even leave the house, I have to double check that I have the list in the proper pocket in my bag. I forgot one time and didn’t get anything except a light-up bracelet that I found fascinating. I have to make sure that my contacts are in and aren’t dry, my phone is fully charged and my headphones are in. Am I wearing something with long sleeves so I don’t get irritated with the wind? Ah, I found my sunglasses finally. My toy car is in my pocket, my beloved fidget toy. I have a hat on. Good, it matches my outfit. Okay, I have my bag and my wallet and my phone and my car and my headphones are in. My sunglasses are on and I’m out the door.
It’s bright despite the cloudiness. I can taste the rain that wants to escape them. The wind is louder than I expected so I turn up my music a little. The neighbor lady is doing something in the corner of my eye and I look down at the ground so I don’t get too distracted by everything. I start walking towards the store. There’s random debris on the ground and I laugh as I kick a rock. I stumble a bit because I have no coordination skills. I smile at my silliness and wave my left arm up and down as I bring my right hand to my mouth and giggle again. My head twitches a bit as a truck rumbles by. I turn up my music again.
I glance up quickly every few paces to make sure my environment hasn’t changed too much. The parking lot is like the stillness in the eye of a tornado with the pavement and parked cars, while the patches of grass and weeds and grass whirl about in the wind and vehicles rush by on the highway and connecting streets. I jump up on the curb and make a baahp noise and giggle again. My hand flaps and I fidget my fingers around. I’m getting anxious already and I haven’t even crossed the street.
I look to make sure no cars are coming and walk to the beat of my music, head down and hands dancing to the tune of my anxiety. Making it across the street bothe abates anxiety and increases it. I smile and wave at some random man on a riding mower and he smiles and waves back. I go back to staring at the ground and mouthing to the lyrics of my song. I cut through the parking lot of the store and nervously enter near the gas station part. I lower the volume on my headphones, although I keep the sunglasses on. I can be in and out in less than a half hour if I do this right.
I take a deep breath and grab a cart. I put my bag in the child seat and take out the list while I get a copy of the week’s ad. I spot salad before anything else and toss it into the cart. I smile at the lady next to me. The fridges are loud today. I turn the music back up. I can get through the produce section quickly, but forget to go to the deli to get Okaasan’s jello thing. I head back and take out my headphones and smile at the worker. It’s loud. I can hear the buzzing of the lights and the humming of the fridges and the gentle slap slap of a rotisserie chicken and there’s so many people walking heavily. Oh gods, the worker is looking at me with that retail smile. I tell her what I want and listen to her small talk and laugh about something weird and random that slips out of my mouth. I thank her and put my headphones back in hurriedly as I walk away. My wrist bangs against the cart’s handle and I want to stop doing it but I know if I do I’ll just get more anxious.
I’m confused about something on Okaasan’s list and call to verify. I can hear all the commotion around me again and slip into my british accent. I’ve never been outside the United States. I’m getting more and more anxious and just want to finish my shopping. Okaasan is getting short with me and I just laugh and call her old. I grab what she wanted and move into the frozen section. I have to turn up my music and quickly get what I want because it’s suddenly cold and there’s a weird air current and the lights are always flickering flickering and I can’t stand that no matter how loud my music is I can always hear and feel the whoosh as I open the doors to grab my frozen broccoli.
I breath a sigh of relief when I get into the canned foods section. There’s tuna in this aisle and I love tuna. I turn my music down a bit but have to park my cart in the middle of the aisle because there are people all around me and jeepers why is that guy staring at me? There’s a random movement in the corner of my eye and I jerk to see what it was. The bright red of someone’s t-shirt enthralls me for a couple of seconds before I shake my head and go back to finishing my shopping. I thank my various heathen gods that there’s so few other shoppers here today.
My wrists are both rhythmically banging against the shopping cart handle and twisting each time they come up in the air. I grab at my hat and shrug my shoulder up to my ear. I quickly wave my arm up and down and make a boop poop noise as softly as a can. I bounce up and down on my toes to get rid of some of the excess energy that is storing up. I just have to check out.
There are long lines and I can’t figure out when all these people came. I pick the line with the worker that I’ve known the longest. When there’s room to put up my stuff, I can’t reach for the divider because the ladies in front of me are chatting and I’ve been told it’s rude to interrupt. I also can’t get my mouth to form the words for ‘excuse me’. I want to cry. Ah, the one closest to me finally puts a divider down and gives me a smile. I smile back and choke out a thank you.
It’s my turn to check out and I have to take out my headphones in case the worker has to ask me a question. It’s also rude to have headphones in and I’m not 100% sure why. It blocks out noise and helps me focus my attention, so why shouldn’t I have Masayume Chasing softly playing in the background? The scanner beeps as she asks me various questions I launch into full blown excitement about my weekend and how i’m planning on making tuna sushi rolls for lunch tomorrow and I’m bouncing up and down on my toes again with my hand going in rhythm with it. She smiles at me when it’s time to pay and I swipe my card and wave goodbye as I stick my headphones back in.
Okaasan is waiting for me in the parking lot, so I pack my bags with the practiced proficiency of someone who once had to work in the hell that is Walmart. When I am finally out of the store, the rushing of cars fills my ears again, despite the loudness of my headphones. I find Okaasan and almost literally toss the bags into the car. I have to stop myself because “toss it in the car” is not a literal statement and that’s how you bruise bananas and break bottles. I put the cart away and rush into the passenger seat. After I am buckled up, I can safely rock side-to-side and back-and-forth. I stare at my feet because staring outside the car makes me anxious.
We finally get home. I put the groceries away and I sit at my computer and rock while I listen to even more music and type up this blog post.
And that, my friends, is what it is like for me at the store. Obviously, it’s not an action by action replay of everything, but hopefully it’ll give you some sort of insight into the stress a visit to the grocer’s brings me. I’m going to go be a spaz (because I hate the word stim and this was way more stressful than I thought it would be) and I will be back tomorrow for part two about my ex.
With care and confusion,
The Sarcastic Autist.