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When I went in for things

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.

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