Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Passover Aisle and an Existential Crisis

I was expecting a shelf full of the Stop & Shop brand wavy potato chips that I can never seem to get enough of, so when I crossed into the chip aisle and was instead greeted with piles of matzah and other assorted Passover necessities I felt like I had entered an alternate universe.

All I could think was, "too soon."

Purim was still two weeks away, I was wearing my winter jacket and there was still half a foot of snow on the ground, yet the aisle was urging me to get ready for the Jewish holiday most associated with spring as if it were right around the corner.

My feet were glued to the floor as I glanced wildly around, wondering if I should start throwing everything in my cart I think I might need for the 3 days of Passover that we will actually be home, wondering if I didn't start now, if there would even be anything left by the time I was ready to begin those ferociously complex preparations. Wondering if we would be reduced to eating matzah and cream cheese for 3 straight days because I couldn't get it together early enough.

My fingers itched to fill my cart. But without a list or any forethought whatsoever I knew that would be a mistake, so I managed to extricate myself from the Passover section and continue my weekly grocery shop.

But as I walked up and down the aisles grabbing what I needed for the rest of the week I was consumed with anxiety and the vague feeling of wildness that had been dogging me for weeks. Months, really, if I'm being honest. I felt unmoored, even in that familiar place, and my vision, usually clear, was hazy around the edges.

Milk, eggs, yogurt went into my cart as I felt myself pulled back towards the Passover aisle. I reasoned that there were things I knew I would need, so why not buy them today? I am not at all accustomed to living with unanswered questions, or to putting off for later what I could just do now. Lately I have been walking along not knowing exactly what my next steps will be. But here, in the brightly lit grocery store, I could know.

Passover is coming. Buy matzah. Simple.

But with the holiday still six weeks away I didn't have a place to store everything, and my logical mind was telling me that it would be better to buy everything at once than in dribs and drabs. So I steered myself towards the check-out and left the store.

When I got home that night I sat down and made a list of the things I need to buy for Passover and made a mental note of the day I would go buy everything.

I still had questions without answers and more uncertainty than certainty filling my days. But just then, at that moment, I had a list.

So I knew that everything was going to turn out ok.


  1. This goes to show the power of those store displays. They play on our doubts, our guilt, and insecurity. Good for you for seeing through the manipulation.

  2. it was the same at my supermarket... but i guess it's always like that, you know can't buy a winter coat in february because bathing suits are already out. it's christmas in october.. nice to see we've made it on the marketing manipulation movement. (i really wanted to use that last M. giggle.)

  3. I completely can relate. I always feel like I'm a step behind in general. Every time I go on Facebook and see people's food prep, or Pinterest yard work projects - I feel like I'm so far behind. Meanwhile, it is still 20 degrees here, I can't see my lawn, and there's only 2 of us to feed so why live off of leftovers for a week. You have a list. You will be fine. :)

  4. I gotcha. I can't stand how early these holidays (ALL of them) show up these days!

  5. I admire your self-restraint. I think I might have gone on a buying spree. BUY ALL THE MATZAH! When I feel unmoored I tend to grasp for anything that makes me feel anchored like my harness is broken and it's the last hand-hold on the rock wall.

  6. They sure do cause anxiety with their earliness, don't they?!! Good for you for waiting it out and making a list. Lists are sooo good to help maintain some control.

  7. You are much wiser than I am. I'd have bought a bunch of stuff, then forgotten I'd bought it and buy it again.