BY MICHELE HERMAN |
I went in to Bed Bath & Beyond
remembering when the hulk
of the building served troubled teens
and then the time it sat sad and vacant
in the heart of Chelsea. I went in wide-eyed
and impressed with adaptive
reuse of its nineteenth-century
department store bones. I went in
for cutting boards and pillows and
a toaster oven and tea. I went in
giddy with nesting, desperate
to pee and knowing where to find
the clean bathroom. I went in pushing
a stroller and came out with objects
in plastic clamshells, I can’t remember
what. I went in for a bath mat and
a desk lamp and light bulbs and spatulas
and silver polish. I went in for shower
curtain liners when the old ones grew
cloudy from scouring off the mildew.
I went in for a blender and an iron.
I went in for several generations
of oven mitts. I rode the escalator down
to bedding and found comfort there
in sheets for our queen, sheets
for the boys’ twins, sheets extra long
for their dorms, sheets for the sofa bed
in what used to be their room. I went in
snobbish about the middle-of-the-road
selection. I went in for a Vornado fan and
returned for three more so I could be done
with the AC. When they added cosmetics
I went in for Tom’s toothpaste and sunscreen
and reading glasses.
Then came a year when I didn’t go in
at all until one day I wore out
our ironing board cover pressing pleats
into masks, so I went in and found the stock
depleted, too many polyester Christmas
tchotchkes with gold-colored threads
and menorahs with LED lights that looked
as if they’d been hauled out from last year,
a clean rectangle on the rug where there
had been a counter of Turkish bath towels.
While I was there I asked where they’d moved
the lightbulbs, but the woman just shook her head.
I went in like a customer worried about bankruptcy.
I went in like an archeologist discovering the ruins
of her own civilization.