A Polar Expedition To the Grocery Store

When I used to live with my sister, the only way I could begrudgingly force myself to do the scant handful of chores she assigned to me was to Mary Poppins myself and turn everything into a game.  I don’t think she really approved of “Human Sprinkler,” but it was the only way she could get me to water the lawn.  So yes, obviously I’m the kind of person who entertains herself on the cold, windy, 2-mile-round-trip grocery store trek in the snow by pretending to be a member of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s arctic expedition, lugging provisions through the snowy wasteland of Northeast Portland.

Upon request from my friend Karly, here are last night’s Snowpocalypse Facebook updates.

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“This won’t be so bad!” she said famous-last-wordsily.

Night One. Block 2. The virgin expanse of untrodden snow is beautiful in the moonlight. Have already lost sight of Shackleton and the others. I must continue my expedition alone. Onward. Block 3 beckons before me.

Night One. Block 4. The path becomes ever more treacherous. The rest of the Arctic expedition must be as far as Prescott by now, for their tracks are already lost to the naked eye, covered over by the falling snow. I had rejoiced to see light up ahead and had thought my destination already mercifully within view, but alas it was only the Powerball sign at that one taco place Jesse likes, and it is closed. Off in the far distance, the Cully traffic light shines out like a beacon. I press on.

Night One. Block 7. Help arrives, in the form of the only part of this street where there are actual sidewalks, as I move ever closer to my destination. I rejoice for the first time at the blinking lights of the tattoo parlor, stripper bar and drive-through mini-mart which signal that Cully is almost upon me. But the race is not yet won, for it is a fearsome street to cross. I must remain vigilant for all dangers, from hungry polar bears to Portland drivers. Onward.

Night One. Block 9. Civilization! The well-trodden paths of the Albertsons parking lot promise warmth, human contact and brief respite from the frigid weather. Also cookies, potentially. My long sojourn reaches its halfway point.

Night One. Block 10. Once more unto the breach. I have lingered too long in the tempting warmth of this preeeetty much deserted grocery store, but another nine blocks await before I arrive at home. From light back into darkness I sally forth, now saddled with provisions. As my bags now require the use of my second hand, further correspondence shall be limited on my return journey. Courage, I tell myself. Courage.

Night One. Block 13. I pause to rest at the Alberta stoplight, the snow on this side of the road so deep it covers my boots in places. I have placed a recklessly high burden on the straps of this New Seasons reusable grocery bag, and with five blocks yet to travel am beginning to doubt whether it will last the journey. But the green lights of Killingsworth beckon tantalizingly out of reach, and one mere block beyond them, the pink Christmas lights of home. I must shoulder my burden and press on.

Night One. Block 17. I pause to write this final entry, Dear Reader, at the very point at which, across the street, I wrote the first. Mighty Killingsworth is yet to be traversed, with its deceptively thin yet tightly packed crust of snow. My provisions appear safe within their bag, but this final block remains the fiercest yet. Into the teeth of the wind – hold up, did I already use “teeth of the wind”? – anyway, into the teeth of the wind I go forth to end this long journey.

Night One. Block the Last. Ah Light! Ah Warmth! Ah Blessed New Seasons Bag, whose handles bore up valiantly under the weight of more hot cocoa than perhaps was strictly necessary! With what joyful trembling fingers, near-benumbed despite what those gloves cost at REI, did I struggle and finally overcome the frozen lock and step across the threshold of home, from whence I set forth on this journey oh so very long ago. Though the path was treacherous and the road long, yet have I always known the Arctic explorer’s life to be a hard one. I felt I had aged many years over the course of this long journey, and by the time I reached Jesse’s taco place on the return route had begun to despair of ever again seeing home – but the sight of glittering moonlit snowflakes cascading gently over the Christmas lights I forgot to take down made my heart young again. And now, whiskey, supper and rest.

POSTSCRIPT: Never did find that jerk Shackleton.

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