It was about 1 week before I started dating Matt that he had one of his infamous trips to Walmart. I had the pleasure (if you could call it that) of sorting and placing all these purchases into his lake home, he owned prior to ours, for weeks afterwards. Although I wasn't there for that specific trip, I had the pleasure (again, if you could call it that) of experiencing other trips, much the same, throughout the years. And it wasn't just Walmart: Menards, Home Depot, Target, or just about any store with similar qualities could have been a target for his shopping extravaganzas. And when I say it was an experience, I mean just that.
Matt had an extreme case of ADHD. He was not one of those people who it was hard to diagnose; it was obvious and it was intense. He was also compulsive, not OCD necessarily, but more in a 'hyper-focus' sense of the word. If he put his mind to something, it would get done. If he wanted something, he would have it. If he was going to build it, fix it, create it; he would.
So imagine a man, completely free from worry, who didn't leave the house much, entering a world like Walmart. It was a site to see, really. I can best describe it as if he was a foreigner or alien even. He would go into a store, that for other people would seem ordinary, but for him it was a new world. With eyes like a child he would literally fill carts with the most seemingly insane things one could think of.
Now ... I think this post needs little disclaimer here. By no means do I condone these trips. Ethical shopping, financial insanity, and adult irresponsibility could all make a person wonder about his motives. But it was part of who he was, part of what made him Matt, and so I share (but by no means recommend).
Matt once shared with me that he didn't like the feeling of trying to do something around the house and being caught without something that he needed for the task, which is why he would shop like he did. The trip that I spoke about at the beginning was the largest I was aware of him taking. He purchased so many idle trinkets, home goods, personal toiletries, and other stuff I still have some of these things around the house. If you wanted to stay with Matt back in those days, you didn't need to bring a thing. His house was stocked with anything a person could imagine; it ended up being quite the little hotel. I still have the receipt from that trip and it makes me want to cry and laugh a little each time I come across it. The total number of carts he ended up checking out with was always up for debate, but it was somewhere around seven.
My mom and I, to our surprise, came across similar receipts shortly after Matt's death. While cleaning out the house it became obvious that Matt had went to every Menard's in the Twin Cities and bought up each clearance box of Christmas lights the store had. It became somewhat of a Twilight Zone experience for us matching up each of those receipts to the boxes (which we found piled and hidden in the above garage storage area), calling each Menards, and requesting ridiculous returns. Mostly, the employees at Menards were great about it. I can only imagine what the light show would have looked like this year.
Another shopping trip that comes to mind was Matt's first Black Friday outing in 2010. I don't know what made him decide to venture out that year, but he did so with a vengeance. He didn't just purchase a WII; he purchased a WII, 6 controllers, a balance board, a dance mat, 25 plus games, a Rock Band set, accessories, and more. He purchased a full size drum set (although no one we know plays drums), a keyboard, and an electric guitar - amp and all. Not to mention a couple TVs.
It all seems silly. Expensive? Yes. But silly too. If you could have shopped with him you would have understood why this makes my memory list. As adults we rarely have moments of complete childlike innocence. Moments where there isn't a care in the world. Times when fun is the only thing on your mind. Experiences where if you could imagine it, dream it, want it, you could have it. That was what it was like to shop with Matt when he would go all out. That was what it was like with Matt a lot of the time, actually.
Of course, he didn't always fill five carts at the store. Sometimes he would just go, and get what he would need, and that would be it. But that is part of it too. You never knew what you were going to get with Matt. It was always an adventure, and if you got invited on one of his adventures you knew it was going to be grand. That is the way he lived ... Grand!
I came across a receipt from Target just a couple weeks ago when I was going through Matt's coat pockets before donating them. I was excited to see what he had bought, get a glimpse into the day he may have had. I was disappointed at first when I opened it, and realized that because I had washed his coat, there was no printing left on it. And then I laughed. The receipt was easily two feet long. I became aware at once of two things; 1) It didn't matter what he had bought that day, but that he had fun doing it and 2) That it saddened me to know, without a doubt, that I would never get the chance to experience a trip like that again. I imagined him coming home with piles of stuff; organizing, moving, plotting, planning ... just the thought of it all was enough for me.