This morning, as he rushed out the door to work, sick and sniffly, Kirk told me I could bring back the bottles and cans to Meijer to help pay for the cold medicine I offered to pick up for him and our dinner groceries, and vaguely gestured to two trash bags by the door. When I woke up enough to be considered presentable for public consumption, I grabbed the two trash bags by the door and made my merry way out to civilization, or, as close to civilization as it gets in Waterford.

I stopped in at Office Max, a very dark Office Max, a very “… are you open?” Office Max, to pick up some supplies for my art job. Dark Office Max was dark because the power had gone off, and hadn’t come back up yet. I adore office stores, and live for browsing up and down the aisles and ogling the shiny, shiny new markers and pens and pencils and erasers and scissors and paper and binders and staplers and and and BREATHE, Rebecca. Unfortunately, dark Office Max meant I couldn’t do that one thing that I absolutely desired, due to stupid liabilities and them not wanting me to get hurt or steal or something, who knows. One of the gracious associates offered to go up and down the aisles, risking life and limb for me, to grab all the items I needed. What I really needed was to actually peruse the aisles and make mental notes, picking up a few things here and there, but I rattled off the things I knew I actually legitimately needed: a ream 67 lb. white bristol paper, the 18-count box of Mr. Sketch scented markers (don’t you dare judge me), construction paper, and industrial-strength rolls of Velcro. As she walked away, I heard – or thought I heard – or thought I thought – someone calling my name. I thought it might be whatever little brain fairies are quietly, consistently doing their brainly duties in my head, thinking of more things I needed from the store, but actually it was Kirk’s sister, who works there. She said my name probably 1600 times before I turned around and responded.

So, I was out of it. A little out of it. A lot out of it.

When I got to Meijer, foraged for a cart in the parking lot (I have never seen a lot so devoid of carts before), and put the full trash bags into the cart, I didn’t notice that one of those bags was not like the other. It wasn’t until I’d completely unloaded one trash bag’s worth of bottles and cans in the return room and moved on to the next that I realized it … did not have bottles or cans in it. It – very, pretty clearly – had trash in it. Like most trash bags do. It had packs of Marlboro 27s, which the boyfriend is valiantly trying to quit, and the ash and butts that come along with such a habit. It had coffee-stained paper towels, and vegetable detritus, and bits of cardboard, and crumpled-up pieces of rejected “art,” and crinkled plastic bags. No bottles. No cans.

Embarrassed, and not wanting to walk around with a bag of trash while I did my grocery shopping, and not wanting to take it back to the car in a really unusual walk of shame only to let it fester and further ferment in my car under the rising heat of the late morning sun, I did what probably almost everyone else in my position would have done. I left it there, in the giant garbage carts they leave for people to put their (normally empty) trash bags in. And I quietly, embarrassingly and embarrassedly laughed to myself while I shoved a few miscreant glass bottles into the glass machine.

I’m sorry, Meijer.

After all that, I did my shopping, wandering up and down the aisles, googling “does Meijer sell quinoa” rather than asking a sales associate (they do, and it was – literally – right in front of me), deciding what to do with the pork chops thawing at home, trying to remember how much of our favorite veggie side dishes (asparagus and mushrooms) we had at home, and finally paying for everything, I somehow forgot to hand in my $4.40 bottle return voucher. I realized it two minutes too late, and though I’m sure I could have been “that customer” who wants to re-ring up her purchase with an entirely different payment method, I hate being “that customer,” so I lugged my two bags to the car and told the greeter I’d be right back.

She remembered me, and welcomed me back when I came in, a minute and a half later. I had a vague notion of buying something for myself with the $4.40, but wasn’t sure what. Lunch? A magazine? A nice to-go coffee mug so I don’t keep stealing Kirk’s? $4.40 worth of Kit-Kats?

I ended up in the flower section. My thumb isn’t particularly green; I’ve killed at least two orchids in the past two years and managed to half-kill a “lucky” bamboo shoot that’s lived in a translucent red cat-shaped wine bottle since I started living alone almost four years ago. But I crave something verdant in my life, though it almost always ends up being destroyed. Spring flowers – hyacinths, daffodils, tulips – are some of my favorite plants, for all their hope and fortitude. They are the first ones out; so brave, such derring-do! Winter be damned!

A tiny, less-than-toothed, stooped, elderly woman was lingering around the same spring flower display I was headed to. WIth an accent I couldn’t and still can’t place and a sweep of her miniscule arm, she showed me that she’d picked out two gorgeous pots of tulips, one yellow, one deep purple. We poked and prodded, lifted and examined, pot after pot of hyacinths and tulips while extolling their virtues: you can plant them outside and bring them back in after spring, your house will smell beautiful all the time, they bring such joy. There was but one vice: sometimes the scent would be almost too much. I laughed and said there were far worse and overpowering scents to have on hand.

There were a few hyacinths of a purple I haven’t often seen, a reddish rather than blueish one. I picked up one, and though its flowers were a little too tight and not quite blooming, I liked it instantly. Mostly, I’ll admit, I liked that it had an ‘extra’ hanging out with it. As if it was a little sister aspiring to be as great as her big sister, a tiny grape hyacinth stood tall along the edge of the pot. As long as I have loved hyacinths, I have also loved grape hyacinths, which are (inexplicably) neither of the grape nor hyacinth family, but of the lily family.

I love their little bell-shaped blooms; their tiny Southern belle hoop skirts; their petite blueberry bonnet; their picayune topsy-turvy grape clusters; their diminutive balloon bouquets. I have long held an appreciation for items cast in miniature, dollhouse accoutrements being a prime example. The detail and attention paid to a tiny perfume tray in 1/16th scale pales in comparison to a tiny stalk yielding a tiny flower at its tiny tip, though.

It didn’t take me long to single that pot out and protectively put it in my basket while the little old lady and I continued our floral discourse. She probably had no idea of the inner glee I was experiencing, how exuberant my floral bounty made me feel. I wished her a good day and fairly skipped to the self-scan with my two plants. Two! Two different plants in one pot! I went in with two bags of trash: one true, one false, and left with two hyacinths: one true, one false.

I also got a Kit-Kat.