• Laura

The Top Ten Parking Lots You’ll Find Me in During a Pandemic

I don’t leave the house much these days. And when I do, it seems like I always find myself sitting in one parking lot or another. So if you happen to be looking for me and I’m not at home (again, I must emphasize that this is a rare occasion these days), here are the top ten parking lots you can find me in during a pandemic.

1. The grocery store parking lot // I was grateful for curbside grocery pickup long before the time of COVID. Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite tasks, and the ability to do it all from my phone without having to haul kids in and out of car seats is one of the great things about living in this day and age. There can be no meltdowns over the Paw Patrol themed snacks if they never see the Paw Patrol themed snacks artfully arranged just at their eye level. My best Black Friday purchase every year is the half-price year long curbside pick up subscription. My one complaint (and this applies only in pandemic times) is that the grocery store is too close to our house. If the grocery store is on top of their curbside game, I can be back with the groceries in fifteen minutes, and when you are always, always home, that’s just not enough time.

2. The Sonic parking lot // Luckily, Sonic is just a few minutes further than the grocery store, so if I’m not in a rush (what is a rush, anymore?) I might add a limeade to my grocery store outing. Sonic is a perfect parking lot to sit in. Pick your spot, take your time placing that order. No one is rushing you through the drive through when you just want to savor being out of the house and out in the world. You can park and scroll through instagram while you wait for them to deliver that delicious limeade right to your car, and no one seems to mind if you keep sitting there for far longer than necessary.

3. The Target parking lot // Target’s drive up service is great and I appreciate how easy they make it to continue giving them my money, even when I don’t set foot in the store. Despite the ease of curbside purchasing via their app, I find myself longingly starting at those glass doors when I park in the drive up lane, thinking about how much I miss strolling through the dollar spot, debating over what I should add to my cart.

4. The library parking lot // Library visits have long been a highlight of our week, but these days, instead of fumbling with a stroller and an oversized bag bulging with books while kids pepper with me with questions over what today’s program will be, I sit in the parking lot alone. I adjust my mask, find my library card, grab the stack of books to be returned. I walk to the lobby, drop my books in the large cardboard box for returns and stand just so as my face is scanned for my temperature. I head to the holds section and grab the books waiting for me on the bookcase where the holds for the letter B reside; they are always on the middle shelf, towards the right. I take three steps to the left, the self checkout computer is waiting for me to scan my card. I drop the books in my canvas tote bag, grab a couple of pumps of hand sanitizer and return to the parking lot—less than five minutes inside. Then I sit in the parking lot for a few more minutes, wondering when my kids will be able to come back to the library for their beloved programs. Will I still need the stroller or will I have retired it by then?

5. The doctor’s office parking lot // I could get used to these new doctor’s office procedures. Waiting in the car is a whole lot better than trying to keep my kids from touching everything in the waiting room and cringing anytime I hear a sick kid cough. And the drive-through flu shots? I hope those are here to stay!

6. The Chick-Fil-A parking lot // This is the favorite parking lot of my kids and always a much anticipated outing. And every time I think: “Seriously, why haven’t put them in charge of the vaccine rollout yet?”

7. The school parking lot // The only times we’ve visited my first grader’s school this year have been for drive through events and material pick up, but it’s exciting whenever we have a reason to go. The chatter in the car is full of energy and excitement: “do you remember” followed by “when we get back to go to in-person school…” and it seems like seeing the school building helps us remember that the days of virtual school are not forever.

8. The coffee shop parking lot // it’s not quite the same as actually going in the coffee shop, but a cup of coffee and a good book in the car is about the closest we’re going to get during a pandemic, so I’ll take it.

9. A well-lit random parking lot // When I’m just about at my breaking point from pandemic life, my husband will offer, “Why don’t you get out of the house for a few hours?” I grab my bag and run for the car, before anything can happen to keep me from leaving. I drive for a little bit, and then, if it’s too cold or dark to sit outside anywhere, I find a random parking lot (well-lit, not deserted, but not too busy). And I sit. And I read or write or sometimes just sit in silence, relishing the fact that no one is talking to me. Or asking me to get them a snack. Or touching me.

10. The driveway // Eventually, I have to head home from whatever parking lot I’ve been spending my precious hours away from home in. But sometimes, I’m just not quite ready to re-enter the realities of stay at home pandemic life. So, you might find me sitting in the driveway, soaking in the last few moments of silence before someone notices that my car has returned and flings open the front door. And when I see their excitement at my return, when I hear the cries of “Mommy, you back!” I can’t help but smile.

Written as a response to a Rhthym writing prompt - find other responses by searching #rhythmwriting2021on Instagram.

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