By Jessica Montalbano
My mom and I butted heads often after I hit puberty. Sometimes it was because I was too much like her. Sometimes, because we were too different.
Things smoothed out by the time I was about 15, when I decided I wanted to have a good relationship with her. After we moved to Hawaii when I was 16, we all got a lot closer. I don’t remember when it began, but at some point I started going with my mom to run errands, often alone. To drag 5 other people along for grocery shopping was always a pain, so she started giving everyone the opportunity to stay home. I liked to go along, mostly to get out of the house, but also because it became some of the only time that we got to spend together alone. Those were some of our best years together. We would usually go on Saturdays, sometimes after visiting a few garage sales in our neighborhood (often we found great deals on clothes, and we would come home with mountains of t-shirts and jeans).
We would do the hard part first–Costco. We both dreaded the Saturday foot traffic, which was why we tried to be early. The following Target and Safeway trips would be a much more pleasant note to end our shopping on. We would bring a snack so we didn’t have to eat out, but sometimes when our trips ran long we would get Panda Express, which quickly became our favorite form of fast food in Hawaii. Then we would go home, around noon, and put away all the groceries and decide how to spend the rest of the day with everybody else.
It’s a small thing, but it was a purposeful thing. I’m sure my siblings are secretly grateful that they were excused from the tediousness of grocery shopping, and I know my dad liked to sleep in just as much as they did. We had our little routine until I moved out to go to college. I did my grocery shopping alone, and I imagine – for a short while – my mom did too. Things like having a Saturday routine together are easy to overlook, but unlike a memory of Disney land or a favorite Christmas present, these memories became part of my timeline. It is similar to how we remember daily life, especially in good times. Things weren’t always easy, but my mom and I had each other. I kept her sane, she used to tell me. I took that on as a duty, as I do with most things, and I felt a sense of guilt when I moved out. Even when I visit home, we go out together on Saturdays. It has an air of nostalgia. Sometimes we visit the thrift store together, or go to odd Asian grocery stores, or take a morning to hunt for sea glass on a remote strip of beach. It brings us both back to a special time in our lives together.