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Adulting

Hello! My name is Molly Moline and I am a senior who is about to graduate as an English major and with a film studies minor. This is a short nonfiction piece I wrote about the dumb struggles of being an adult.

Because I am an adult, I go to the grocery store alone.

Because I go to the grocery store alone, I must pretend to be an adult.

There is a twisting knot in my stomach as soon as I step into the florescent building. Everyone is moving; walking, pushing, talking their way through the crowded isles to get what they need. The list becomes crumpled in my hand as I clutch the edge of my coat. Take a deep breath.

I never had any trouble shopping with my mom as a child. I hold fond memories of Tuesday mornings in the summer, when my brother and I would ride along for the trip to Walmart 25 minutes down the road. We took turns hanging from the back of the cart, begging her to buy another box of Coco Puffs, our favorite chocolate cereal. Sometimes she would give in, other times she would compromise with ingredients for taco pie and getting us each a fresh slice of Colby Jack cheese from the deli counter as a treat.

Because I have my own money now, I can buy my own Jack cheese. I can eat whatever I want in my apartment, but I only ever want the meals she made for us as kids.

Every night I miss the taste of mom’s cooking, and I have tried to memorize every brand and package she keeps in her kitchen. Brownberry country buttermilk bread that has a blue label. Campbell’s homestyle chicken noodle soup. A pound of Meijer ground beef with that black packaging. Smart Balance original butter. 1% milk with the magenta label. A dozen eggs sitting in a yellow, foam container. Pre-sliced pineapple. Green beans from the freezer section, French style cut. Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips.

She gave me her recipes for cooking chicken (make sure to add salt and pepper to both sides), and the magazine cutout for ham and (sharp cheddar) cheese sliders baked in the oven, so that I can attempt to make my favorite meals after an exhausting day of classes.

My heart is racing as I pace along the deli counter.

But what kind of ham do I need? I didn’t realize there were so many different types and flavors. There’s sliced ham (thin or thick), cubed, half un-sliced ham, whole ham, ham steak. You can choose to have the bone in or out of the ham. Not to mention you can have honey ham, honey cured ham, hickory smoked, Kentucky legend black forest, pepper ham. I just need regular sliced ham, is that too much to ask? What if I get the wrong thing?

Pulling my phone out, I call my mom.

Because I call her while she’s at work, she doesn’t remember the exact name.

Because she doesn’t remember, and because I’ve been staring at the meat longer than a normal person would, I move to the next item on my list: spaghetti sauce.

I’m stuck again, staring down the shelves lined with different brands and flavors and colors. Because she is at work, I don’t call a second time. Instead, I walk slowly to the other end of the isle, eyes scanning for something familiar, but I end up with nothing new in my cart.

I decide to make my noodles with butter, because this is what adults do.

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