I heard once -- I think in church -- or perhaps I read it somewhere, that one can quickly discern the idols in her life by looking to see where the money goes. For me, for most of my life the money's gone to Target.
Sure my money has also gone to family and friends, to church, to charity, to the government, to lenders, to utilities, to grocers and to department stores, but the payee that has most frequently appeared in my check register and on my bank statements over the years is good ole' Big Red. For me, Target has been a pillar.
That reminds me of the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who solved all problems with Windex. And of my own father: he was and remains a proponent of peanuts, bananas and Tylenol. And in my memories, my mother prescribed antibiotics (which I never finished) to cure all things. Take two of these, and call me in the morning.
I was about ten, when construction began in the lot at the corner of Buckley and Quincy Rd. Biking-distance from my childhood home, a monument, which changed the face of my neighborhood and the course of my life, was erected; Target moved to town. And ever since, it has been my own panacea and the recipient of my tithes and offerings.
I found everything I was looking for, save produce, at Target. In fact, I found everything I wasn't looking for there too. I remember joking with friends in college about how impossible it seemed to leave Target less than $100 lighter. That was in the 90s. And then, in the genesis of the 21st century, came Super Target.
When I eventually returned to Colorado, a few things had changed: I was a little older, a little wider. I still lived in a suburb of Denver, but this time, on the other side of town. I was homeowner, rather than tenant; parent, rather than the child. And over 20 years, I had been to California, to Europe and back. But history often repeats itself and some things remain unchanged.
In 2005, at the corner of Church Ranch and Hwy 36, construction began on yet another monument -- a super monument just biking distance from my new home. I'll take two of these and two of these, and how about three of those... Problems solved.
And then came Whidbey.
The ubiquitous red temple and its affordable, expedient convenience is now a ferry ride away. These days, it takes time, planning and cold, hard cash just to get to Target's parking lot. It is no longer possible for me to "run to Target" or to "just stop by" on my way home. Real life has ransomed that I learn to let go, to hang in there, to look elsewhere and to live without.
Yesterday, the kids and I shopped at Target for the first time since early December. We left home at 8:16 a.m. (a minor miracle), walked through the crimson trimmed, sliding glass doors just before 10, and headed straight for the loo. Just like old times.
"It looks like the Target in Colorado," Cole noticed. "It smells the same too."
(Note: this is one of those things about Target that I can take to the bank. They always have clean, sweet smelling public restrooms. I SO appreciate this).
For two hours, the kids and I got lost in this strangely familiar Target store. Returning to Target was like meeting up with an old acquaintance after a long while. It looked the same as I remembered, but something was different. We picked up where we left off, sort of. So much and not much had changed.
As we strolled, the kids and I found things, misplaced things and found more things -- ALL things. We grabbed things and eventually, we put some things back. In the end, we left Target as one tends to leave a Thanksgiving feast: more than satisfied and exhausted.
Fortunately, I stuck to my budget... and my list... at Target (potentially a first). Unfortunately, however, I neglected to include the primary item I went to Target to retrieve on my list. It got lost in the periphery, so we returned home without it. Yeah. It wasn't until we'd traveled over the river (ocean), through the woods and back down to my house that I realized the oversight. ARGH.
At 2:22 p.m., after stressing and obsessing, I consulted the Board (aka Maya and Cole) and made the executive decision, to pile back in the car, to travel eight miles down to the ferry dock, to catch the 3:00 boat (thankfully there was no line) back over to America, and to drive eight more miles once we disembarked. Mmm hmm. For the second time since December, we visited Everett's one-stop shop.
(Note: This is another one of those things about Target: Somewhere between the parking lot and my drive way, I invariably remember at least one thing I forgot to grab while I was there. I'm faced with a decision: do I do without, or do I run back?)
On this occasion, I chose the latter.
The kids and I high-tailed it through aisle upon aisle of anything and everything in less than ten minutes (another first). Miraculously, we made the 4:30 ferry, and we pulled into my drive way at a quarter past five. Ever since, I've been thinking about Target.
Yes, Target is a little like a Thanksgiving feast: it boasts larger than life platters of every variety. On Whidbey, there are two choices, really: expensive and more expensive. At Target, on the other hand, all things are affordable and choices abound. Colorful displays of strategically-placed products entice and beckon me to liberally and hastily partake. If I don't pace myself, I run the risk of leaving the feast spent and stuffed.
Recently, I read that withdrawal increases sensitivity. I've also heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Tried and true. After seven months away, I appreciate Target more than I ever did when it was a biweekly habit. That said, however, I returned home yesterday over-stimulated and absolutely fried. By 8:30 p.m., I was in bed.
The thing is, infinite possibilities aren't necessarily a great thing for me. I often feel overwhelmed and paralyzed when faced with too many choices. Moderation has become a panacea. It has become a plausible, probable option as I have slowed down and eliminated possibilities.
Everything costs more and takes more time now. I can't “stop by” anywhere anymore, and very little feels "convenient." Yet on the whole, I have more time, and I spend far less.
Nevertheless, Target remains a good thing (and Super Target, a grand one) in my mind. I imagine I will remain a devoted fan for the rest of my days. But as I think about our trip(s) yesterday -- while they were well-worth the wait and the effort -- I suppose Target's absence in my present is a good thing as well. In the space and time and resource afforded by its absence, my life is being lived more intentionally -- more peaceably. I may not be back for a while.