Sprinkle-Coated Cookies

I went to Publix yesterday—my hometown grocery store. I lived just across the street from one growing up. I remember the names of the check out ladies, the smell of the deli counter.

I like being in a Publix. I like the vague but pleasant sense of nostalgia.

Anyway, yesterday, while pushing through the bakery section, I saw a little girl standing beside her father smiling as the bakery lady reached into a case and pulled out a single sprinkle-coated sugar cookie. I laughed, remembering my official “cookie club” card and the joy of free cookies at Publix.

I was excited for London to get her very own free cookie and even excited to buy a dozen—for old time’s sake. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had one.

I opened the box, took out a cookie, shook off the extra sprinkles, and put it in my mouth.  And I almost melted into a puddle in the middle of aisle 9. The cookie was good, sure, but the memories that flooded into my body, memories previously cooped up behind a dam, those memories were powerful, tangible, palpable. I could see seven-year-old Bobby. I could see my outfit. I saw the full array of options in the cookie display case. I even saw the exact font on the computer-printed dessert labels. And the smells. And the tastes. Even the feeling of independence that sent electricity through my legs as we abandoned Mom’s cart and ran, on our own, to the bakery. Free cookies, a “credit card,” my brother, and freedom—joy, joy, joy, joy.

I’ve eaten a lot of cookies. At first I thought I’d purchased a dozen, but now that I’ve eaten fifteen of them I’m realizing I was wrong.

I don’t want to stop eating cookies. But I don’t want to run out either.