1. I can get a bacon egg and cheese on a roll, any day, any time, and it actually tastes good.
2. There’s a cat named Charlie who sits by the door and loves a good scratch.
3. The small wizard behind the Milanos bags, who beckons me with a slender, knobby finger, his white bushy beard swishing behind him as he floats towards the Mrs. Meyer’s soap rack.
4. I know my bodega owner personally, and he has spotted me several times when I’ve forgotten my wallet.
5. They’re often owned by families — it’s not some impersonal corporate chain!
6. I spy the cobalt and gold folds of the small wizard’s robes through the slit between the Tide and Gain detergents. He beckons me further, his black eyes wide behind half-moon glasses. I bend forward and push my face between the bottles and am sucked through the crevice. The floor falls away, and I am diving after the wizard down into the muddy purple dark.
7. I can walk to my bodega! It’s just a block away.
8. The ATM dispenses money in $10 increments, so I don’t have to waste my time trying to break a $20.
9. I fly towards the wizard, down the tunnel faster and faster like an eagle falling on its prey. His eyes gleam at me, and he waits to receive me with open arms, still falling. My hands intertwine with his, all at once strange and familiar. I look in his face, wrinkled and weathered like yellowed paper, and it’s my face. My own frightened hazel eyes reflect back at me. It’s my father’s face, pinched in laughter; my mother’s, flush from exertion; my grandfather’s and his mother’s. A thousand years pass as we fall, or maybe just a few minutes. The wizard leans in and whispers into my ear, his downy beard tickling the lobe, and speaks to me the truth of the universe. I close my eyes and weep because I already know — and the weight of this terrible gift is all at once unbearable and unknowable. He leans back and smiles. I no longer fear death.
10. Hi-Chews! You can’t get Hi-Chews at a 7-Eleven.