Tag Archives: lynchburg

life without trader joe’s

Traderjoes

Or, How Sabrina is Coping Poorly Outside of Her Natural Habitat.

I miss Trader Joe’s.

That can pretty much sum it all up.

But I’ll explain, because that makes a better story.

Okay.  I’ve lived within reasonable proximity to a Trader Joe’s (2-4 miles) for the past 8 years or so (and Whole Foods, but they’re becoming over-rated).  Oh, you don’t know what a Trader Joe’s is?  Let me fix that.

Trader Joe’s is essentially a haven for wanna-be foodies who have a budget, hippies who desire vegetarian, organic, and alternative fare, and it is also friendly to those who live gluten-free.  In Southern California, Trader Joe’s is frequented by yuppies; in the PNW, well, Trader Joe’s is a given for almost anybody.  There you can find the yummiest coconut milk ice cream, the cheapest organic spaghetti sauce, the tastiest dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, some of the most innovative food creations, cheap, organic veggies, the best junk food paraded as healthy food, and mostly, I was a very happy human being shopping there.

For four of those years, I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, where I naturally acclimated as a nerd, quasi-hippie, musician, bookworm, and an individual who is generally interested in the arts.  Health food stores are a given there (Marlene’s was the best!  Who knew local health food stores could have such lovely delis!), and vegans are so common that no one bats an eyelash in encountering one.  I was safe, happy, and comfortable in this environment.  I shopped every week at Trader Joe’s, because, for the things that I normally buy, it was the least expensive option.  When I first moved to the PNW, Trader Joe’s was a welcome, familiar place.  I also frequented Marlene’s…surprise, surprise.

I moved to the South in July.  And boy oh boy, was there plenty of culture shock in the food department.  Nearest Whole Foods?  60 minutes away.  Trader Joe’s? Around the same.  Nearest health food store (a tiny one, without a deli)?  A good 6 miles away.  The nearest grocery store?  Kroger.  The only grocery stores in town?  Food Lion, and…Kroger.  I’ve had to reassemble life without inexpensive access to organic baby carrots, natural peanut butter, free-range chicken, gluten-free snickerdoodles, sweet potato chips, organic olive oil, vinho verde, and…basically everything I’m used to snacking on.  Any (rare) equivalent I might find at Kroger’s is around 100% more expensive.

The funny thing is, Trader Joe’s requires a high collegiate population in order to place a store in that city.  Lynchburg is teeming with undergraduate and graduate students.  Why no Trader Joe’s?  Why?

And it’s not just Trader Joe’s I’m missing.  I still mope over the fact that I can’t pop over to Metropolitan Market and grab a vegan, gluten-free cupcake.  Those kind of cupcakes don’t exist in Lynchburg.  I’d have to scrounge up the ingredients to make them myself, and would seriously luck out if I didn’t have to spend half a day traveling to find them.  BUT.  I would be very happy if there was just a Trader Joe’s nearby.

There’s something to be said for eating familiar foods; it’s good for the soul, don’t you think?  Somehow, everything else will be okay, as along as I can put familiar foods in my belly.  But for now, there’s an ache in my belly and consequently, my soul, because they miss Trader Joe’s.

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sabrina’s quest, part 1

Here, in the South (now, I realize Virginia is only the tip of the iceberg; I have not experienced the deep South), there is an air of nationalism that makes me nervous.  There seems to be an expectation that if you love God, you will be unwavering in your patriotism, and always vote Republican.  This expectation is one of the reasons that I’ve been avoiding Baptist churches, since they always seem to be the most nationalistic. (I could go off on a rabbit trail here, but I choose not to.  If you want to know what I mean about nationalism, ask me in a different forum.)

So, if I’m avoiding Baptist churches, what’s left?

In the past, I’ve been a part of the EFCA, and IFCA (admittedly, my church was fairly progressive for the IFCA).  I write the IFCA off, because, you know, it’s the South.  What happens when one combines fundamentalism and the Southern spirit?  I don’t really want to know.  No offense.

I look up the EFCA, and find a church that is several miles away.  It seems to be a fairly conservative, run of the mill, evangelical church.  No problem, right?

Introduce Sabrina’s Problem.  Or, if you will, Sabrina’s Quest.

I’ve been finding over the past several years that typical evangelical churches leave me wanting for something more (yes, the church I grew up with).  You’ve got your worship teams + slides for music, your once-a-month communion, the focal point of the service, which is the sermon.  There’s usually no good visual art, lending itself to worship.  Add to the fact that seminary has ruined my ability to politely sit in church and take everything in without analysis; this means I examine everything. (Not that I never examined anything before, but seminary just gave me more ammo.) In summary, a typical evangelical service does nothing for my spiritual personality, unless the sermon feeds my mind & soul.

I’ve been slowly discovering that my mind & soul need to connect with something more meaningful than praise songs and a sermon and communion once a month.  I need substance and beauty that I can see AND hear.  I need some kind of connection with a tradition.  (Last year, I was blessed to have the opportunity to plan a Sunday communion service for my beloved IFCA church in which I may have threw some for a loop, but I am not counting on that opportunity again anytime soon.)

Well, there are a couple United Methodist churches down the street.  Okay.  Over all, pretty watery for Sabrina.  Watery sermon, bland music, although the sanctuary was gorgeous.

There’s also an Episcopal church down the street.  Not my first choice, for a number of reasons, but I want to see if highly structured liturgy feeds me, and if the beauty of the old church lends to worship.  There’s beautiful, historic liturgy.  An okay sermon that did little for me.  Hymns accompanied by organ and choir.  A gorgeous place of worship.  A focus on communion.  But…something seemed missing to my evangelical self.  There’s a prayer for the dead that I don’t understand, an overall sense of dullness amongst the parishioners, and I already mentioned the sermon.

I think I can do better, so I look up the ACNA, find Church of the Good Shepherd, and write the pastor, asking for a ride on Sunday.  I received a very gracious response, and when I finally made it on Sunday, everything clicked.  A beautiful chapel, scripture saturated & historic liturgy, a good sermon, animated worship, focus on communion.  Boom.

But Sabrina…Anglican?

Maybe.  Look for part two sometime next week.

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