Saturday, October 9, 2021

Mall Rats

I don't have much writing time this morning.  I have an assignment for a seminary class due by 1:00.  It shouldn't be a huge deal, but I get nervous waiting until the last minute.  In this condo we're renting, we have more reliable internet than I've ever had anywhere, but I still worry.  I only have to write 350 words, but that brings its own challenges.

Still, this morning I wanted to record the experience I had last night:  a trip to a mall.  As I emerged from Macy's into the mall itself, I thought, how long has it been since I've been in this kind of traditional mall?  Not an outlet park, not a Town Centre, but an enclosed mall?  

It may have been over a decade.  When my parents still lived in Northern Virginia, my mom and I would meet my sister at Tyson's Corner and have a coffee outside of Nordstrom--my mom's treat, courtesy of her coffee card.  Then we'd do some shopping, have some lunch, finish up our shopping.  That's my last memory of strolling through a mall.  My parents moved in 2011 or so; I may not have been to a mall since.

Last night was so strange.  I went to the Galleria Mall in Ft. Lauderdale where I was meeting old friends at Cooper's Hawk for happy hour.  When we first moved down here in 1998, the Galleria Mall was a place with upscale stores and a blah food court.  Now, the reverse is true:  lots of fast fashion and cheap junk, plus an Apple store with lines that snaked around the empty small stands in the middle of the mall.  Where once there was a Pottery Barn, there's a place where you can buy cheap imitations of luxury goods.  It was strange.

I made my way to the upscale restaurants, where one could enter without ever coming into the mall itself.  I noticed the shabby carpeting, the dim lighting?  What has happened to this mall?  Was it pandemic related or had it happened earlier?  I know that malls across the country have been facing challenges, but I thought it was more the middle-brow malls.

It was great to be with friends again, great to have bar food, great to catch up.  We went early, so there didn't seem to be much risk from other people.  And my friends that were closer than 6 feet to me are vaccinated, so the risk seemed minimal (fingers crossed!).

I came home feeling a mix of wistful and sad, sad about the world that is gone, wistful about friends both here and not here--but overall happy about the connections that I still have.

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