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Monday, January 7, 2013

Melting Pot...

Bundled up and headed out on a cold Winter's day.

Yesterday it was time to "fill the pantry" aka grocery shop. And it has inspired me to write a different type of blog post. A post about the melting pot my  husband and I have relocated to.  This was to be our first routine building outing since moving to our new to us city and home. I pulled up all our normal places that we like to shop at on the computer and wrote down addresses and directions. We were to start with the Dollar Tree, then Trader Joes and not being in the mood for a Super Wal Mart trip just yet, we decided to try the new "Neighborhood" Wal Mart ( none of the home goods, just groceries) as our final stop.  We new it would be an adventure.  I know that is not the word you think of when going grocery shopping, but when in a new city, a very sizable city filled with ever changing landscapes, a variety of walks of life and people, when coming from a rather more, well how can I say this, a less cultured filled area, at least in the small bubble we frequented in our last residence. 

There seems to be a lot of "characters" and people from
varied backgrounds and walks of life living in our new bubble.

First stop at The Dollar Tree, our surprise was that it was on the back side of the HUGE, upgraded shopping area , surrounded by warehouses, and as seems to be the norm here, old neighborhoods  and big box stores all in the same block. There was not many cars in the parking lot, we were not even sure it was open, but indeed it was. It was bright, light and well laid out. A nice surprise, it seemed even nicer than the one we have been shopping at. We like going there for paper goods, and various snacks, we end up saving a lot of money by making the extra stop. I even manged to get a new toothbrush holder and some hand towels and a nice outside broom...oh! and these really cute lidded casserole dishes in white plastic ( but don't look it) that can go from freezer to microwave.... hello enchilada's for two ready to be re-heated as needed. The check out girl was polite and friendly and chatted us up.... the biggest difference we noticed and we found later on this will be the norm, we were the minority. Past myself, our daughter who tagged along, and my husband, there was maybe only one other Caucasian in the whole store.  I battled with myself to mention this, but it is part of life and our world and our new to us area. There is a strong representation of Black people, of every walk of life here, from street walkers and homeless to those more affluent.  I do not see color of skin, everyone is just a person to me, we all have the same blood  pumping through us, we all started the same way and we all  have families, places we live, we all eat food... well you get the idea. That being said, when I was a little girl I grew up in an upper middle class area, then moved to a small country town and if I was to see any other nationality it was Hispanic. Even in the smaller city in Texas we lived in was very much the same, unless we ventured into Houston ( and after Katrina hit New Orleans when there was an influx of people moving to our small pocket in the aftermath) and so was the town we just moved from so it is sadly, new to me to be in a more varied environment. I am excited for it, again it adds to life to experience new people and cultures. There was one other thing that was a bit unnerving with this location, and I guess a part of big city living and it was not who was shopping there, but that you could not take the carts out of the store, apparently they get stolen.... a lot. That is not something we are used to.  Theft can happen anywhere, and is not isolated or clarified by color of skin or nationality or at times, as we see in the news, walks of life,  but where it actually prevents normal business practice of using a cart to get purchases to your car, well, that is just a sad thing to me. 

Lesson learned at Dollar Tree, buy only what you can
carry out to your car.

Our next stop was to Trader Joes. If you have never heard of one, never been to one, or don't have one, it is a gourmet ( of sorts), upscale, yet with affordable prices, with a nod towards healthy living store. The location was only perhaps two miles from our last location and what a difference in environment. The shopping center was filled with places like Noha's Bagel, Jamba Juice, Starbucks and a fabric store. It is on a main street in our area, actually down the street from where we live....very convenient as we love Trader Joes.  Upon walking in, it was like any other location, bright, light, and very busy. Workers in Hawaiian shirts, and though there was a variance of ages, walks of life ect., there did seem to be a lot more elderly there, but  yet, in stark contrast, not the same mix as our last stop. I do not think it speaks to the difference of a Dollar Tree to a Trader Joes, but more of again how varied our new area is and how the "landscape" is so varied from pocket to pocket of this area we now live in.  Again, to me, someone who is always soaking in their environment and looking for new subject matter in which to write about, exciting. O.k. it is scary too, cause though I like experiencing new things, places and people, I also get very comfy in my bubble and it is hard for me to go past the perimeters of it.  I am a home body and it seems to get worse with age. 

At the Trader Joes , there seemed to be more
elderly ladies doing their weekly shopping there and
far less of other age groups. Gee what does that
say about me? Guess I fit in with my now silver hair LOL!!

The next stop was right across the street. The new Neighborhood Wal Mart. Located in an older strip mall than the one we had just driven over from , or at least one that has not been remodeled to the upgrades that the powers to be for this area are trying to make to the look and shopping that surround where we live. CONTRAST. That is the only word I can say.  Yes, there was every walk of life, age, and background. We saw upon just a few seconds of entering, three Black women walking in that were decked out to the nines, and right next to us a young man wearing his pants below his knees and playing gangster rap on his phone for all the store to "enjoy" . There was elderly in their motorized carts, and young "white bread" collage students. There was little old men and ladies, and people still in their pj's buying that evenings dinner. This "neighborhood" store was a pure melting pot, what America is all about.  That being said, on a side note, my middle daughter loves her Neighborhood Wal Mart store, but my review of ours is that it misses the mark. As much as I dislike having to go to a Wal Mart period, it fits our budget and is a necessary evil, and from this point on guess we have to go back to venturing into the "super" one for future shopping trips.... *sigh* . But back to the cultural commentary... saying something about the customers that shop at this particular store, apparently they like chicken "paws".... no I am not kidding , that is what it said on the package.  Amen to the melting pot of America, that we all have a wide span of tastes, likes and dislikes. It makes it far less boring than the endless packages of varied fat percentages of ground beef now doesn't it??? 

There was a lot of fashion hits and misses among the
black women and men that walked along the isles of the
local Wal Mart. Just going to say the same held true for the
Caucasian, Asian and Hispanic that walked the same isles.
A reflection of our culture. One thing could do without...
the young men, of every skin color, with pants around their knees. Keep those
boxers covered and wear a belt!!!

After finishing up the bulk of our shopping ( again this last stop was lacking some of our normal purchases) , we headed back to the house, only a mile and a half away and in that mile and a half a true snap shot of what I had witnessed of this new area in which we lived. In the short drive, we saw homeless men and women, prostitutes, yes, prostitutes, standing across the street from the police station ( WOW! is all I can say for being daring of location of where to stand), and elderly couples, hand in hand taking their daily stroll and the shirtless man who jogs up and down the main road. 
In our pocket, there is a heavy dose of
retired people living in the homes in our
neighborhood... along with a real
mix of other ages, races and statuses of life. 

There are homeless that walk by each day,
so much so, I have started to recognize the "regulars".

The oldest profession seems to be represented
in our new bubble; that is something I did not expect.
There is a only a small sprinkling
of children from what I have seen , even in
the local stores . I hope over time this
turns into a vibrant family centered area,
adding another layer to our new environment. 

I see the same snap shot of life and culture, the same melting pot of America, from my living room window on a daily basis, that I saw yesterday while out grocery shopping.  The old adage of "sit somewhere long enough".... well seems to be true of where we live now. As I sit here on my couch now (still have not bought a new desk), every kind of car, truck and motor cycle drives past, every type of person , young to old, Black, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic and everyone in between stops, just for a bit on our corner, waiting to cross the street, a true representation of America's Melting Pot and the new area we have now made our home..... I can tell just from yesterday and my little over one week of living here , in the house on the busy corner, life will never be boring , it will never be quiet and it will be ever changing.... I will have to adjust to that, as it was not my original plan when looking for a house to make a home in, but am also looking forward to it and maybe, just maybe it will breathe a bit of life back into my daily routine (s) .... add a bit of spice back to it and I will once again feel more a part of the melting pot that is just right outside my door. 

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