Commissary Run

It rained today, so our plans for a backyard makeover were scrapped.

Instead, we went on our grocery pilgrimage. Normally, we accomplish this chore every month or two. But it hasn’t been normal lately. Martin thinks it is going on three months since we last went grocery shopping.

Going grocery shopping for us requires a trip toward downtown Washington DC to one of the military installations around the district. Because I’m an Air Force Reservist, I still have access to the commissary, which is a great benefit as this helps us save a lot of money. But admittedly, it’s not as convenient as shopping at the supermarket in our immediate neighborhood. So, when we do make these trips, we really stock up.

This time, we went to the commissary at Ft. Myer, which is located in Arlington near the Potomac River. It was established during the Civil War and still has a bunch of old, historical building on it. Lots of great history and I do my best to point things out to Miss C and Lola when we drive through the base and fill them in on random facts about it, such as the fact it was the site of the first test flight by a military aircraft, done by Orville Wright, who is a distant cousin of ours on my mother’s side.

The neatest thing about Ft. Myer, though, is that it butts up against Arlington Cemetery, which we can see along many of the roads. Miss C is fascinated with Arlington Cemetery and whenever we pass it, whether on Ft. Myer or George Washington Parkway on the other side of it, she points it out and reminds us that the people buried there all died for our country. It is so neat that she and Lola get to experience a little bit of American history as we go shopping for ground turkey and granola just a few blocks away.

Of course, shopping at the commissary on a weekend does have its downfalls. It seems that everyone is shopping at the commissary on the weekend: active duty families, retirees, local reservists like me. This means that the aisles are jammed with shopping carts, families, little old ladies with walkers, lost husbands and teenagers on cell phones. There’s constant motion, even though it feels like everyone is moving at a slow pace.

The perk to all this, though, is that the chances of you bumping into someone fabulous are pretty high, which was the case today.

As soon as we walked in the door, we bumped into our good friend Suzanne and her son Lucas. Suzanne was an Air Force photographer and we worked together on a variety of projects while I was at the Pentagon. Her husband is still active duty (and is also an incredibly talented military photographer), so she did a commissary run today, too.

After making lunch plans with her for later in the week, Martin and I each grabbed a cart and went for it while Miss C snapped photos with my camera. It was a little insane, not only because of the crowd, but because Martin and I were restocking our kitchen and pantry. In fact, when he made the shopping list, he simply wrote down what we had verses what we needed, because, frankly, we needed everything else.

By the time we were done, we broke a family record for amount paid in a single commissary run. Fortunately, Martin didn’t need to panic. He had simply rolled over our grocery budget each month, waiting for this day. Still, I was amazed. And excited, because now I can actually plan meals that don’t consist of mac-and-cheese, spaghetti or peanut butter and jelly.