March 18, 1999
A Priceless Day
You have three goals for your Sunday: wash your car, wash your clothes, wash yourself.
You've accomplished two of the three when you find yourself driving by the Farmer's Market on Fairfax. You pull in and find a parking place right away, which you think is a good omen. This must be where you're supposed to be.
You wander in and, before you know it, you're totally lost and turned around, but you don't mind. You just go with it. You walk through a narrow hallway and find yourself surrounded by produce, grapefruits on the left, long stalks of asparagus to your right. You walk by a crepe stand and inhale the smell of toasted nuts. You wander by a glass case that's filled with wheels of cheese and jars of Nutella.
A guy asks for a quarter, and you give him a dollar.
You hear people speaking French, and you walk by a table of senior citizens, two of them reading The Jewish Journal. You smile.
At this point, you have no idea where you are in relation to your car. You set a goal for yourself, and it's a simple one: deciding what to eat. You browse a shrimp salad the size of a human head. You flirt with the idea of a sub or an ice cream sundae. Secretly, you know those crepes are going to call you home, but you look, nonetheless.
Passing by a schlocky tourist store, you spy a stack of Chinese silk purses. You fiddle with them, testing the zippers and imagining yourself with each color before choosing an off-white coin purse and a turquoise wallet. You pay the man $4.79 and call him "sir" in your most polite voice.
Back in the fray, you pass a candy stall and notice rows of baggies, all $2, each filled with a different variety of gummy candies. You choose a bag of Swedish fish, carefully selecting the bag with the most red ones, because everyone knows the red fish are the best. You chew one as you find yourself back at the crepe stand.
You read the sports section as you wait for your tuna-and-swiss cheese crepe. It's taking a while, but you don't get annoyed, because you're only goal is to eat, and you're well on your way.
You sit in the sun, munching your crepe and remembering why canned tuna should never be served hot. You push aside the fish and eat the crepe shell, which is chewy and amazing. You understand at that moment why most religious faiths pray over food. You're not really up on the correct prayer for a crepe, but you feel a sense of gratitude all the same.
You notice that other people are in couples, but you don't feel jealous. You know that no one would have put up with all this wandering and purse shopping and painstaking Swedish fish selecting and endless, pointless staring at piles of beans and rice. You make a point of smiling at absolutely everyone who will look at you. You notice the candle shop will be giving out henna tattoos next week, and you vow to return.
You think about those credit card commercials: bag of gummy fish, $2; tuna crepe, $6; two silk purses, $4.79; fleeting sense of grace, priceless.
Teresa Strasser is a twenty something contributing writer for The Jewish Journal.