Walked around the grocery store with Claire the other night, tired and frazzled from studying all day. I felt like I was in a mental institution, with all of the bright track lighting and those rubberized floor tiles that are designed to make as little noise as possible. People wandering around like drowzy buffaloes. The place was designed to be calming and accomodating- why do I always feel trapped when I'm there?
Supermarkets are nothing like marketplaces- more like a museum dedicated to the memory of an actual marketplace. Instead of dealing with a dairy farmer, you get a glass display version of milk with pictures of cows, in case you've forgotten where it comes from. Instead of a pharmacist, you get rows after rows of abandonned creams and jells. There's something remarkably lonely about it all- All Alone in the Supermarket? Well, who isn't?
These are the important choices in my life? Regular or extra-strength? Paper or plastic? Is this what I get to look forward to in middle age? Consumer choices, but no real choices? One box store after another? Controlled environments and set schedules? Is this nursing home society where I'm going to spend the rest of my life?
God, I hope not. I'm glad I have the wife I do. We have so many friends who are trapped in these hideous tract suburbs, trying to collect enough shit to be officially deemed happy by our other friends. But, my wife doesn't want that life at all. Most of the people we know are up to their eyeballs in debt. Most of them are massively insecure. How did our culture get to this point in which any real alternative seems impossible? How did we end up in this Panglossian 'best of all possible worlds', which is really just the most boring of all possible worlds?
Isn't it time for something different? What could it be?