I had a completely kid-free evening tonight, and how did I spend it? Shopping, of course. Knowing me, that sounds both completely ridiculous and completely practical at the same time–it is really nice to roam the stores at a leisurely pace, looking for the exact.right.thing, and feeling free to go back when you’ve missed something. No three-year-old in the cart getting progressively crankier is a huge blessing that I don’t get often. Even with the older kids, I feel obliged to keep moving because I know they don’t want to be there. So yes, kid-free shopping is immensely practical.
But it’s also not like me. If given a kid-free night of my own choosing, I’d be home reading or working on a project. Unfortunately, the kids were at home. So that ruled out that possibility (at least until after bedtime). Coming out of Target, though (of course I was at Target), I was struck by the unbelievable sunset that was minutes away. You could almost stand and watch it happen in front of you, the sun gradually slipping under a cloud until the gray was illuminated in peaches and pinks. And I did watch, for a bit. Then I started to feel silly, sitting in my car in the parking lot, in a “this is a kid-free night! Are you going to just sit there?” way, and I got up and went in the next store. That was a fairly brief trip, and when I came out, sure enough; there was the sunset, easing away from the glorious I had just missed. I walked very slowly to the next stop, trying to soak it in, and realized I’d been surrounded by people all night completely oblivious to the show. As I wandered through my last stop, I was struck by how much stuff exists right now–it was one of those floor to ceiling display places–and how it seems that everyone around, this Friday night, was set on owning a piece of it. Forget the beauty that came completely free right outside the door. Our job is to buy: to go and to buy. And not to think. Heaven forbid we stop and think.
As I left that final store I was struck by the last thing I saw: a large, framed photo of a sunset. I suppose, that way, you can “own” it, and look at it whenever you want…before you walk out the door to go buy more stuff.