Querencia: The feeling for one’s own place
I’ve been in search of my querencia all my life. I’ve looked far and wide, traveling the globe, seeking my perfect paradise. I’ve been to many beaches, cities, rivers, and homes, yet after I depart each place, my heart never yearns to return. But, my perception of what a querencia needs to be closed my eyes to the place that has held me captive in its warm embrace for years. I thought the heart’s kingdom could only be a vacation destination or a home, yet now I realize that I discovered my querencia long ago. No matter where I was or what was occurring in my life, my newly realized querencia has weathered every storm and willingly accepted me with open arms. Costco has tied strings to my heart and soul tugging me back everytime I leave.
I’m anxious as I creep towards the middle-aged man standing to the far left of the enormous entrance. Slowly, I approach him, watching beads of sweat run from his receding hairline down to his connecting eyebrows. He raises that messy caterpillar at me expectantly, waiting for me to whip out my membership card. I know I don’t have one but I’m positive I’ll be strutting into the mouth of glory shortly. With a smile, I begin to spurt out a lie. I tell him the same thing that I tell every person whose stood where he stands, that my mother is inside and I want to go meet her. He flashes me a knowing smile, and ushers me inside. I grin at him. Now that he has granted me access into the gates of heaven, the hefty guard grows a pair of white wings, transforming into a glorious angel. I continue my path into the holy land, floating on a cloud, my spirit splitting into a thousand pieces, hungry to explore every nook of this concrete palace. Breaking my euphoric state I hear what sounds like a cat in heat. I whip around to see a puffy eyed toddler sitting in a silver shopping cart, fat tears cascading from his eyes and catching in his multitude of chins. He glances at me, throws his fat tomato head back, and proceeds to wail. I turn on my heel, close my eyes, and allow myself to take in all of the noise. In the beginning, each noise is blended together into a cacophony of sound. I perk my ears up and concentrate, distinguishing the rukus into individual sounds. I hear the cooing of an infant, the blaring sounds of a machine moving backwards, a couple playfully bickering, a man’s thunderous chuckle echoing throughout the store. I’m filled with an inexplicable giddiness. I absorb each of these unique noises, programming each one into my memory to revisit later. I hate the painful silence, so the pandemonium of Costco at midday on a weekend is like walking through a dream sequence, frame by frame.
I pick up my pace as I near the aisle that is the object of my fantasy. My ponytail swings back and forth, my split ends tickling my cheeks as I near the section with anticipation. I’m in awe, an abundance of salsa, guacamole, yogurt dips, and more towers before me in neat stacks. The cool air from the refrigerator grazes me, causing the small hairs on my arms to stand up. I lean over for a better look, and what I uncover is truly magnificent. I hear the angels begin to hark and golden beams of light shine from the product I hold in my hands. I’m delicate in my touch of the divine container. It’s weight tugs at my arms, but all I think of is the delicious content within. A 36 ounce container of hummus, an amount much greater than any I’ve seen at other markets. I take a moment to appreciate this instant of discovery that epitomizes one of the great beauties of Costco. An exorbitant amount of my favorite food for a reasonable price. A cold bar slams into my lower back, interrupting my moment of reflection. I whip around, rubbing the sore spot and see a young girl begin to apologize. Nodding my head with understanding, I catch a whiff of the tantalizing aroma of tomato sauce and cheese. I float towards the smell, salivating at the thought of what I’ll find. I finally arrive at the welcoming metal stand and flash a bright smile at the bony woman scooping ravioli into small paper cups. Picking up a cup, I place the morsel into my mouth. Immediately, a creamy and delightful cheese explodes as I chew. The tomato sauce joins the party, mingling with the cheese and coating my mouth with its rich sauce and delectable flavor. I swallow, savoring the way the bite travels down my throat, warming my soul, before taking residency in my stomach. Closing my eyes in enjoyment, I’m overwhelmed with sensations of bliss and content. I look again at the old woman punching numbers into the microwave, convinced that she is Julia Child incarnate.
I stroll towards the exit of my concrete paradise, glancing at anything I might have missed during my visit. My face is contorted in a pensive yet happy expression, considering the ways in which each element of Costco works in perfect harmony. I sit at a table outside, feeling the chilly Autumn wind blow against my neck, sending a shiver down my spine. The ding of a text from my mother notifying me that she is finished pumping her gas disheartens me. I stand up slowly and walk towards her vehicle. Looking around I see people in a blur, a couple with a 20 pound bag of potatoes, a family with 30 rolls of toilet paper, and a man with a large pizza on the run. Dejectedly, I reach my car in mourning. Departing from my querencia is a bittersweet farewell. It is heartbreaking to leave but I know that in a few short weeks, I will relive the excitement of returning to my forever home.