I walked half a mile across the steaming asphalt parking lot because I decided it was time. I had to see for myself what the hell was in those stores. As I reached for the door, I saw foam pool noodles, sun visors, and cheap Tupperware jammed into bins by the door.
Heaven on Earth. Why did I wait so long?
Once inside, I was unable to keep from touching every.single.thing. The glittery hula hoops were so alluring that I grabbed two and hung them from my neck. “These are going home with me,” I said, as if someone had just challenged my claim to them.
Dollar World. Its treasures beckoned me, shoved as they were on racks with alarming randomness. I picked up a number 5 candle for Sadie’s upcoming birthday celebration. Naturally, it was hanging right next to a colander and a package of disinfectant wipes.
Dollar World, I think I love you. Said that out loud too.
It was all shits and giggles until I got to what could loosely be described as the “hair care” aisle. I didn’t realize that giant pink foam rollers were still a thing. I hadn’t laid eyes on them since sixth grade. But there they were: two five-foot stuffed racks announcing their continued existence. You can’t convince me it was a “coincidence” that Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survived started at that exact moment.
I dropped all the shit I was carrying, dusted off a twelve-roller set of the bigger black ones with the fuzzy, Velcro-like stuff on the outside. Just like my Grandma’s. I didn’t need them any more than the ceramic hippo vase or the nude panty hose, but I wanted those rollers. An homage to my Grandma.
Nobody would love Dollar World more than she would have. She who never met a garage sale she wouldn’t pull over for or a thrift store she wouldn’t stroll into to peruse the dusty piles used men’s dress shoes—even after my Grandpa died. Sure, she’d love my kids—especially Sadie’s habit of breaking into song and the way Simon scrunches up his face when he’s playing ninja. (The Jewish thing might elicit a few vague judgments-disguised-as-questions, but she loved me and I was Catholic, which was almost as bad as being Jewish to her southern Baptist mind.) But she’d really, really love Dollar World.
By the time I dumped my haul on the counter, I felt that jittery I’m-about-to-cry tremor. Thank god the teenaged clerk distracted me by trying to stuff my hula hoops into a bag better suited for a pack of gum or a hot wheel (both of which I bought).
It was hard to tell if the emotion was coming from that place in me that loves a bargain and plastic bags full of cheap shit, or the part of me that misses my Grandma and wishes we could split a piece of Big Red gum. Hell, it was both. Not sure how different those are sometimes.
Back at my car, I scrolled through my iPod to find the perfect music for the ride home. I floored the gas and cruised home with the sun roof open, How Great Thou Art on repeat.