At church, my family is left-siders. We always have been, and we always will be. I don’t know if it’s because our church is Lutheran, or if it’s because most of our forefathers were German, but every family has their unofficial, assigned seats. Deviating from your assigned seat is always noted — at least by me.
Even now, I could confidently make an educated guess about where various families will be sitting on Sunday morning.
Growing up, I was always tempted by the other side. Most of my friends were right-siders, and it represented a whole new arena for my imagination. Different heads in front of you, different singing voices behind you and a new view of the sanctuary before you.
Children fill in knowledge gaps with whatever makes the most sense to them. It wasn’t until I figured out that the line in the Apostles Creed is “he spake by the prophets” — not “he spanked the prophets” — that I agreed to say the creed with the rest of the congregation.
Likewise, I reasoned that if all my friends sat on the right side, it must be more fun.
The allure of the right side lasted until the morning we got to church late and there was no room on our side. My mother, who always led the rest of us into the sanctuary, paused for a moment at the entrance before continuing down the aisle and bravely settling in to a front, right pew.
It felt wrong. The whole thing was wrong. I was sure the whole church was watching us, wondering what had caused our sudden shift in loyalty. My mortification was compounded when I had to stand up and scoot to the other side of my dad so I wasn’t sitting by either of my siblings — the classic parenting technique of separating trouble before it can start.
I had a similar experience this weekend when I went to a different grocery store in town. Normally, I am faithful to the same grocery store, so much so that sometimes I forget there are other options in town — unless I’m looking for something specific like seaweed paper for sushi or Coca-Cola made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.
But, after wandering up and down the produce aisles twice at my regular store, I couldn’t find any sign of what I was looking for. I had my heart set on making butternut squash tacos, and butternut squash is not something you can find a substitute for — especially when it’s the star of the tacos.
So, I decided to visit a different grocery store in Worthington. I had been there a couple times before, but for some reason rarely frequent it these days.
As I walked up and down the aisles, it was amazing how many people I saw there that I have never seen grocery shopping before — apparently they are all as loyal as I (usually) am. It felt a little weird, like I had crossed sides again. The food displayed was basically the same, but I would find things along the back wall instead of the third aisle or next to the coffee instead of the bread. The canned goods were not where I thought they should be, and by the time I got to the dairy, I realized I had missed half the things on my list and had to weave my way back through the store to get everything I needed.
I did, however, find one of my favorite teas that I’ve been searching for, and the butternut squash that led me there in the first place.
While my family is still left-siders, I decided I may be willing to bend on my grocery store loyalty — at least a little bit. If nothing else, it’s always nice to see who’s on the other side.