Lol…Bear with me guys…I am in a fun mood these days.
Beware the Duane Reades of this world.
Those seemingly innocuous detours on the journey of life where nothing magical ever seems to happen; pharmacies, 7-elevens, gas stations, traffic stops, botanical parks in wintertime, train stations, trains, buses… No matter where in the world you are, there is a Duane Reade just around the corner. Beware.
Duane is usually a familiar place. So familiar that you know it like the back of your hand. And so you walk into it defenseless, you leave behind your armor, because what could possibly get you in a pharmacy of all places?
What were you expecting to find when you walked into the Duane Reade a block away from your office in Flatbush? Some medicine for your aching muscles, the results of the crazy workout your trainer put you through last night? An antidote for the runny nose that seems to have snuck up on you between last night and this morning? Maybe some emergency makeup and tights for the evening’s meeting with clients that showed up in the city unexpectedly? Perfume to mask the day’s smell and give you confidence as you sit at a dinner where you are the only woman? A last minute gift for your colleague whose last day at the office is tomorrow? Cookies to snack on before dinner? Or maybe almonds instead because you are on a diet never seems to end since you turned the big 30? And juice, the one with claims of no sugar and just fruit to go with the almonds?
Your shopping cart is fuller than you expected it to be when you walked into the store from the blistering cold. You roll your eyes at the deception that is a Duane Reade and other pharmacies in New York. All these so-called drugstores that are no different from Walmart or Costco with their product selection.
You wonder how many bags you will have to lug up the stairs back to the office. The elevator at work stopped working a long time ago but because you work for a startup where the average age is 26 and your colleagues use their lunch breaks for yoga and crossfit, no one has fussed about getting it fixed. You too have stopped holding out hope for the day the elevator repair van will show up.
You start to head to the cashier. There is no line in front of her and you are glad. It means you can save some time and sneak into the nice new Vietnamese place a block away for some Pho. Pho is healthy; this is what you tell yourself every time you do Chinese or Asian food take out. It all has to be healthy or how come the Asians never seem to put on any weight. Your phone starts to vibrate as you start down the personal care aisle to head to the cashier. As you dig into your purse for it, your cart bumps into a person.
“I am so sorry…” You start to say.
His smile would make the sun blush with shame but it is winter and the sun won’t be blushing anytime soon anyway.
“Don’t be. It isn’t every day I get bumped by someone who is polite enough to say sorry in Brooklyn.”
Later when your friends ask you where you met, you will hesitate. Who finds love in between shelves and rows of shaving cream, miconazole and vaginal wash? You end up always answering their question with “Brooklyn.” Most of your friends live in the Bronx and Harlem just like you so that answer is almost always enough. If you had said Manhattan, it would have been too much for them to handle but Brooklyn is close and far away enough to be a mystery and magical for a love story.
You laugh about it together when you are alone.
“I found you when I was looking for shaving cream.”
“A guy that chose me over shaving cream…what more could a girl ask for?”
You laugh and swat him on his bum as he cooks Jollof rice that tastes like home.
Later you make love and just before you fall asleep, he asks you “And you, were you looking for miracles when you found me?”
“No,” You admit, because even now, six months and a Brooklyn rooftop wedding later, you still can’t believe your luck at finding him, much less in a Duane.
But you are both fast learners and know better now. Every time you walk into a Duane Reade these days, there is an expectation in both your hearts. You know now that anything can happen anywhere. And because expectations don’t fail, someday you both walk into the same Duane Reade you met. You go in hand in hand, and head straight to the feminine care section, the pregnancy test shelf, because you know now that miracles don’t need churches to happen, just love and maybe some help from the stars.