Buying Cheese in Uncharted Territory

| January 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

There are two Trader Joe’s within walking distance of my apartment, both no more than fifteen minutes away even when it’s chilly. I can actually see one of them from my bedroom window, and its friendly red lettering seems to beckon to me from across the Charles.

That is not the TJ’s I frequent; the one in Brookline is my go-to. I know its layout, its cashiers, which times I should avoid its cramped city-sized aisles, when the produce is the freshest. The path I take to get there meanders over tree-lined sidewalks and past lovely homes and crowded parks that give me a glimpse of a future I might one day be lucky enough to have. Shopping there means a short reprieve from the hustle-and-bustle of Commonwealth Avenue, and even though the overstuffed paper bags I always carry out make my shoulders moan, I think it clears my head.

I can see my room! | Photo Credit Rhiannon Pabich

I can see my room! | Photo Credit Rhiannon Pabich

The other, oft-gazed-upon TJ’s was a wildcard. With no grandmother in Cambridge to speak of, its location over the river and throughthe woods kept me away for the past three-and-a-half years. That journey, though allegedly short, was a mystery; my Brookline shop was safe and familiar. Routine was too easy to pass up.

But on a Wednesday afternoon earlier this semester, I left class early and had no backpack. It wasn’t cold enough for excuses, and I was actually standing on the BU Bridge when I remembered I needed more cheese. Before I could talk myself out of it, I hung a sharp right and embarked toward both the unexplored grocery store and the Shell Station Sign, which has quietly become my Citgo Sign of the West.

Stepping over crunchy fallen leaves, I found myself walking along and eventually within a field. I’d idly watched people playing soccer on it before, from my ivory Buick Street tower, but had never really given it a second thought. Gazing toward Boston with my feet firmly planted in a different zip code, counting faraway windows until I found my own, I didn’t feel as small as those people kicking around a ball had always seemed.

I reached my destination without incident, and it was nice, though unremarkable. A chain store is a chain store, no matter how you parse it, even though I remember a time when the only TJ’s were on the other end of the country. I got what I went for, cheese and milk and tea and spinach, but those cheerfully-decorated paper bags seemed lighter than usual. I guess perspective isn’t very heavy.



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Category: Boston, featured, Food and Travel

Rhiannon Pabich

About the Author ()

Rhiannon was once asked to write a "bland, professional bio" and she failed miserably. She is, however, good at some things, which include yelling in hockey arenas, explaining the importance of comprehensive sex ed, and pursuing adventures. The journalism major hails from the deep south and, on a good day, enjoys scintillating conversation and copious amounts of caffeine. On a bad day, she enjoys sarcasm-laden conversation and obscene amounts of caffeine (but really, isn't every day a good one?). She likes playing with paint, crying happy tears, red balloons, and you.

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