I was stuck with a bad case of writer’s block, so I reached out to a friend and said, “ask me a question about myself. Trying to figure out what to write.” She responded “what’s your favorite place and why?” Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically, my favorite place is inside my head. It’s like being trapped in a group chat, but at least I know who’s speaking. I’ve always been insular, but especially since the pandemic started, I’ve had a lot of time to argue with myself, and it’s peculiar how often I lose.
My birthday is September 10th, 1977. Therefore, I am a Virgo and completely tied to the land. If we’re talking about an actual location I can show to other people, it’s the Columbia River Gorge. When I lived in Portland and felt emotionally injured, I’d drive to one of the many waterfalls and just hike it out. One particular time I’ll remember for the rest of my life, because it’s the moment I realized I didn’t love Dana, I was in love with her. At the recommendation of another friend, that time when I went out, I was standing knee-deep in freezing cold water, screaming and singing my lungs out. I looked over, and Dana was crying at the simple fact that I was hurt. It touched my heart and I will never be the same from being shown so much kindness.
That being said, these are not my only favorite places. Coming in at number three is Whole Foods Market. I could get my produce anywhere, but WF never runs low on vegan food and I love marketing. I will buy anything that says “new and improved.” It seems like other grocery stores have Quorn and Morningstar Farms, but don’t carry Vegannaise. Regular grocery stores don’t carry the vegan pesto I like, either. It’s got tofu and lemon to replace the parmesan cheese and it’s so good that last night I ate it out of the jar while I was waiting for my vegetables to cook. They also carry “meat powder,” which sounds really gross unless I tell you that it’s texturized vegetable protein (Just Add Water!) that you don’t have to refrigerate. They also carry all the brands of cheese I cannot live without. In terms of vegan food, it’s the same price as anywhere else, so it’s not like I’m doing the whole “pay my 80 bucks for six things and get out.” I still shake my head at some of their prices, but I understand why a relatively small bottle of juice is $8. They have someone in the back whose job it is to squeeze fruit and vegetables all day. Sounds about as exciting as a root canal.
The first time I went to a Whole Foods (I must have been 14 or 15), my sister and I cleaned the place out. You know that aisle where you have to put the baggies under the plastic canisters and if you pull too fast, the items end up in a tray? Well, my sister and I figured out that you could lift up the tray and we ate everything on the entire rail (both sides of the aisle) while my parents were shopping (sorry, Dad). I decided that if we got caught, I’d just hide and let Lindsay take the fall (sorry, Lindsay) because she’s so much younger than me that she’d be less likely to get send to kiddo jail. We did not get caught. But we did get what amounts to a couple of pounds of trail mix. It was hard to tell as we were shoveling it in. I’m sure it’s the most sanitary thing we’ve ever done.
Whole Foods also has an entire aisle’s worth of dried fruit, and my current obsession is pancakes (Just Add Water!). In my pantry, I have strawberries, goji berries, and bananas. Not only do they take your pancakes to 11, I eat the strawberries and bananas with sandwiches as a replacement for chips.
My one gripe with them is that they don’t make my favorite candy, which is chocolate covered pretzels. I mean, they do make them. But they don’t have a vegan chocolate except in bars from other companies. It’s also a no-go on the yogurt, because well, yogurt. I just have to hope that one day, I’ll be at someone’s house and they’ll offer me some chocolate covered pretzels, because turning down other people’s hospitality is just rude.
In terms of vacation, I’m lucky that I already live in my favorite place. I can’t wait until I get vaccinated for COVID, because I can resume my very busy schedule of walking around and looking at stuff. It takes a lot of fortitude to get on public transportation and not worry myself into a migraine. By next year, I’m hoping to go back to all the monuments I’ve seen and all the ones I haven’t discovered. I found a new one to me when I was walking to the Metro from the Kennedy Center in a roundabout way. It was the WWII memorial, and at the time, I didn’t even know what it was except beautiful. It hadn’t been built until after I’d left the DC area in 2002, so taking that walk was fortuitous. I could have gotten on the Metro closer to the KenCen, but I find that DC is best experienced when you make an effort to walk as long as you can before you find a station. There’s history around every corner.
I mean, the Whole Foods where George Washington used to shop is in Alexandria.