The Pandemic took away the Salad Bar

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Last week, our oldest daughter had get-togethers scheduled with her former dance classmates from Joy of Motion Dance Center. The last time our daughter saw any of her classmates was in March 2020. It was really a lovely time to see her former classmates-turned-friends as it had been around 1.5 years since they had seen each other.

We had planned for our daughter to see her friends and set things up beautifully to coincide with our youngest daughter’s camp drop-off. Going to camp every day near the Chinatown neighborhood in the District of Columbia meant we were already halfway where we needed to be. Thank goodness for GPS is all I have to say about that.

The logistics and circumstances with the first visit with my daughter’s friend worked out beautifully. We travelled to Rockville, Maryland and I ended up hanging out in my car for around an hour or so because the time limit for seeing the second friend was approaching quickly and it would take another thirty minutes for us just to get there.

The first visit with a sweet girl turned out to be a lovely experience. The second visit was probably more meaningful than I could have anticipated. I already knew we were travelling to Bethesda. Maryland, and I knew the location where we would be. We had been to this second friend’s house previously and we knew what to expect.

What I didn’t expect was my daughter telling me that she felt “nostalgic” about the whole trip because we were once again travelling in the same circles as we did barely a year-and-a-half ago, right before the pandemic. Joy of Motion was our beloved dance studio for so long. It was our life. It was our entire being. We did so much in preparation for our dance classes and spent hours upon hours travelling, dancing, and coming home.

One of the things I did on a typical dance class day was go and park at a local Giant grocery store. The place was roughly two miles away from the dance studio and it was one of my favorite places to be. I vividly remember parking my car, going inside to use the bathroom, and quite often, picking up a few groceries while I was there.

I packed my dinner each day and ate after I dropped off my daughters at class, but sometimes, I ran out of food and was hungry. That would prompt me to go inside to rummage around the salad bar at Giant to see what would tantalize me on any given day. I loved getting a tiny bit of lettuce, slivered chicken, like the kind you might see on a fajita, and one or two hard-boiled eggs. It was silly paying salad bar prices for a hard-boiled egg that would cost me probably five cents to boil at home, but it was a treat nonetheless.

These were simple memories I had from eating at the salad bar at Giant. To me, it was all associated with Joy of Motion and it was meaningful.

Right after I dropped my daughter off at her friend’s house in Bethesda, I circled back to my favorite Giant at Bethesda and went and parked at my usual spot. I fully expected to see the salad bar. I wasn’t going to buy anything, but I wanted the feeling of reminiscing to wash over me and bathe me with a voluntary nostalgia. I wanted to relive my Joy of Motion days.

Would you believe the salad bar was gone, replaced by carefully wrapped, sealed, and packaged refrigerated foods? A very nice employee from Giant explained to me that the pandemic took away their ability to offer open-air foods due to risk of contamination. Would you believe I already knew all of that and I simply forgot?

Giant in Bethesda Row replaced its salad bar with prepackaged foods.

It had been a full sixteen months since we had been at Joy of Motion and an equal amount of time since I ate from the salad bar. The fact that the pandemic took away the salad bar was like a light punch in the gut. The pandemic took a lot away from me. The pandemic opened up a Pandora’s box about Joy of Motion’s recent history that made local headlines and became a huge problem, prompting immediate social change.

These are some of the things I’m writing about in my book, “Conflicted with Joy.” Please stay tuned for more updates.

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