It was October and my carriage was full of Hot Wheels tracks, downy Elmo pajamas, miniature Hulk Hogans and Stone Cold Steve Austins, and plush character blankets covered in football helmets or Power Rangers. I pulled up to the register at the back of the store by the bathrooms.
I rang a bell.
After a moment, a woman walked out of a storage room door and approached the counter I was placing my items on.
“Layaway?” she asked in a husky voice.
“Yes, please,” I answered.
She rang up my items and placed them neatly in a very large clear plastic bag.
“305.76,” she said. “$61.15 is due today.”
“Wow,” I said and laughed.
She laughed, too, solidifying our friendly banter.
“You have six weeks and you must pay this amount each week,” she said as she pressed her pointer finger on the breakdown which included my minimum weekly payment at the bottom of the long receipt. “Thank you for shopping at Kmart.”
We smiled at each other and parted ways, and I left the store empty-handed sans some type of baby boy. I would go home and count the minutes until Roger would come home from base.
I was like a puppy when I heard his car outside our duplex on Tarawa Terrace, and felt the butterflies in my chest act up when he entered the house in his cammies and wide smile.
I would get his first glance, but he would go right to whatever son was in the house at the time, and I would wait in line with my list ready to show him our future Christmas stash for the boys. He loved Christmas.
I would think about my stockpile of gifts and count down the days until I was able to pick it all up, making the receipt soft and creased, and when the day arrived, I felt high. I would dress a little nicer, drive over to Kmart and wait outside the big glass doors until it opened for business. I’ve done this many, many times.
Now we don’t wait for anything. Charge it! Put it on my card! Those days of anticipation are over, and I miss them. I appreciated stuff more then, too, because I had to wait for it. Nothing, though, can take that memory away from me, that memory of our family’s life when things were so simple yet meant so much more to us, the days of Kmart, Christmas layaway, and final payments.