“Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends,
then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze
and have a ball
If that’s all there is.”
Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
I had an existentialist crisis at the Shoprite today. I thought I’d be clever and go grocery shopping at noon, before my Sunday visit with Mom, but it was a terrible mistake. Usually I shop after the visit, at around 5:00 p.m. and it’s less crowded, almost bearable. Like Linnnn and many other OSers, I assume, I do not enjoy the act of procuring groceries. Maybe my inner hunter-gatherer was manifesting itself and longed for the days when humans didn’t go to the gym to sweat. Every day involved physical struggles, hardships and simple, hard-won rewards that most of us cannot conceive of.
Weekends are the worst time at Shoprite. I used to go on weekday evenings after work; earlier in the week was best. Consumers were much mellower, almost devil-may-care.
Noon on Sundays at Shoprite is sheer hell. Carts weaving in and out and around me, an elderly man in a khaki jacket shoved me from behind, a middle-aged woman shoved me from in front, a large 20-something woman with her angry-faced infant in the shopping cart passed me in the kosher food aisle. The baby’s face metamorphosed into a devil with fangs. I felt like Natalie Portman in Black Swan, utterly paranoid. I wanted to sprout wings and fly far, far away. What had I done to deserve this?
At a certain point, I felt I had left my body and was hovering near the phosphorescent lights, peering down upon the rushing, angry masses of suburbia, pushing and shoving for that last box of Rice-a-Roni on sale or the Ragu Pasta Sauce for $1.99. I hated them all. My hands started to shake and grow clammy, I broke into a cold sweat; my heart palpitated. Why hadn't I brought that bottle of Klonopin? I wondered, why do I live in suburbia? I never wanted to, never wanted to work a full-time office job, especially not as a legal secretary. Hell, I got a “D” in typing class in high school. The best thing about mastering typing, however, was being able to write faster, but that’s another story.
I made it home, and my husband Lorin had a glass of coke waiting for me and unloaded the car. I sat in the backyard with my cats and ate a sandwich and drank the coke: I needed blood sugar, and I needed to chill.
“At least in Astoria and Washington Heights, you know if they hate you,” I said. “Here, they smile at you but then they talk about you behind your back.”
I guess I wasn’t meant for the suburbs. I’m feeling in a rut, like my life is at a standstill. Maybe it’s turning 50 last September that broke me. I AM A BABY BOOMER (a tween?)! I DESERVE TO DIE, according to Robert Crook, so why am I complaining? I am hyper-critical of everything I have done and have not done. I have regrets, but I am moving forward. I’m meeting with my director/writer/acting coach friend in less than 2 weeks to resume work on my one-woman show. I will return to performing, my old love.
But today I am feeling pointless, not knowing why I am here on planet earth, what difference I am making to the world at large. Do I have any real value? I am not where I expected to be at this age. In my 20s, I was an activist, ready and eager to change the world. In my 30s, I still felt sassy and cool. In my 40s, I started to wonder if all I was was my mother’s unwitting savior. Now, I feel adrift at sea. I long for something new, exciting, to transport me and awaken me, but ultimately, I know that must come from within. Musings for a Sunday evening. Tomorrow will surely be a brighter day.
Peggy Lee sums my feelings up best in her signature song: