My husband and our 12-year-old headed to a soccer store tonight to pick up some goalie gloves and shin guards. It was a store my husband never had been to, and I called ahead for directions. "They could have just told us," my husband said. "That it's in the shopping center with no other stores in it."
The day before, I drove the same son to an art supply store a few towns away to buy paint for a school project. The store was shuttered. On the drive home, I noticed the Harley-Davidson dealership in our town is gone, along with a new restaurant that never made it past its third month.
New Jersey is still struggling from Wall Street's financial meltdown. Our jobless rate is slightly higher than the nation's. And it seems to me that all of us are shopping less, reconsidering whether we really need that new pair of shoes or if we should borrow a book from the public library instead of buying it.
In some ways, reducing our purchases can be a good thing; what many of us consider necessities are luxuries for most of the world. My own family has gone months without a working stove, but we have managed, making meals in crock pots and in the electric grill until we can pay cash for a new stove. That's called being resourceful.
And yet, I get nostalgic about places that used to be part of this suburban landscape. I don't ride a motorcycle but I am going to miss driving by the Harley-Davidson dealership, seeing the gatherings there. And I am sad to see the nearby discount children's clothing store is closing; I used to buy cheap suits for our sons there when they were growing out of clothing sizes every few months or so. And that art store; I loved poking around in it. I remember buying our oldest and his buddy sketchpads and nice artists' pencils one rainy day when they were 10.
So it goes, reminding me that life is but a breath, a shadow, a taste of Mystery. "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit.' You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears."