So, I walked out of a grocery store yesterday without buying any groceries. For the first time in my life, I walked out of a grocery store because it was too expensive.

On the way to the Trader Joe’s that I usually go to when Jenn’s out of town (when she’s here, she drives us over to a different one. I, however, am carless, so I ride the train and take a long walk while carrying a big backpack), I noted that there was a Whole Foods. Since the Best Buy I was visiting was right next to the Whole Foods, I figured I’d pop inside the Whole Foods and save myself the three or four extra blocks to Trader Joe’s. I figured shopping somewhere else would be a nice change.

Now, I knew Whole Foods was pricer that TJ’s, but… I didn’t realize just how much more pricy it was until I got to the substantial cheese section (oh! A substantial cheese section! I was so happy!)

It was an amazing cheese section. I recognized several chunks of Spanish cheeses – David sent me a great selection of these a couple months ago, and they were damn good, so I figured I’d pick up a couple more. I selected a hunk and turned it over.

It costs $13.99.

It’s a testament to just how damn good that cheese was that I did actually consider buying it.

But I put it back.

The next one?

$10.99

For a hunk of cheese.

Well, I thought, screw that, I’ll just get my regular mozzarella and go home.

Mozzarella?

$8.49. And it was half the size of what I usually get at TJ’s.

It’s $3.49 at TJ’s.

And, it occured to me, standing there in the cheese aisle, that I was going to spend 2-3 times what I usually spend on groceries this week if I continued shopping. I have thousands of dollars in medical bills that I still owe. I’ve been working my ass off to get my finances together this year, after three years of angsting about it. I want to be able to move next year, and that’s only going to happen if I stop being an idiot.

I went back through the store, replaced everything to their proper shelves, and walked to Trader Joe’s.

It was a strange feeling, to empty a cart and leave the store because it was too expensive. It felt vaguely humiliating. I feel like I’ve worked really hard so that I can afford to go out, to live well, and the idea that I had to walk out of a *grocery* store of all things because it was too rich for me was just disconcerting.

At the same time, I can’t afford to pay $13.49 for cheese.

Someday, maybe.

Not today.

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