I leaned against the back tinted glass of our family’s mini van, 3 Doors Down blasted through my headphones as I watched the telephone poles race against a sea of empty plowed fields. From time to time we’d cross some small town like ours, the desirability easily noted by the fluctuated Motel 6 room rates that towered amongst the clouds alongside the Golden arches, and the red pursed lips of Dairy Queen. The new mega mall had been the talk of the town. “It’s a mile long circle of things to do,” some would rave. Others bragged about the amazing outlet deals that could have never been matched in our small west Texas town. Short on cash my family made the 5 hour drive to make this mall an easy and affordable summer vacation destination to remember.
The mall in person was beyond what our imagination could have drawn for us in 1998, just the parking lot alone was something you’d imagine only in a mega football arena.
It wasn’t about the stores for me, it was the details. We entered at door 5, a voice on the intercom boomed through the open area “entering door 5.” My stepfather and I exchanged an amazed glance; we had just walked into the future. The elaborate decor possessed a sense of playful whimsy, inspiring the imagination and stirring my mind for this adventure. With our eyes, my mother and I followed what must have been 20 iron green vines that swerved and curved until they were entwined with the ceiling in the shape of a cyclone whirring above guest relations. It was wonderful that in a time of such draught and decay that amongst the bland terrains we could discover a place so vibrant with life and vivid with colors.
When I hit 18 life was about the future, we could print directions off the internet, discover the most affordable rates online, book our rooms, and spend weeks downloading the perfect jams off Kazaa and Bear Share to easily burn onto discs. Our senior trip would be epic, and we would spend it at Grapevine Mills. The indoor skate park was a must watch event, only second to the three story arcade where we would compete like champions to win the highest scores on those Dance Dance Revolution platforms.
Shopping consisted of a shirt sweep at Steve and Barry’s. Hot Topic was so new, so rare, and so incredibly taboo it was an irresistible stop. A ticket of plaid bondage shorts, checkered shoe laces, and a “Don’t Annoy the Unmedicated Person” Tee later we would find ourselves lost in the Virgin Records store, placing the cracked leather headphones over our heads. We were numb to the rough scratching they caused our ears as we hopped from genre to genre sampling tracks from Avril, to Ying Yang Twins, to this new emerging band we had heard would be great, My Chemical Romance. We continued our dance amongst the listening stalls until we had compiled a decent list of songs we planned to download when we arrived home. How could we have fully fathomed the repercussions?
When I hit my mid-twenties I was too important to concern myself with the shutting down of Virgin Records. I had my own 12 stores that depended on my leadership to keep their doors open. I couldn’t recollect the welcoming chimes of the 5th door entry as I was too busy taking calls from angry customers and a demanding executive board. The news of the skatepark becoming a Lego Land and the arcade morphing into an aquarium had little sentimental affect on me, I only saw how perhaps it could positively effect our revenue.
My job now was not to enjoy the mall, but to assure my employees made each trip for our customers as magical it was once for me. I took little notice to the fading conditions of the interior decor, perhaps when lapping the mall on a call with a concerned store manager I would take note that the once emerald and royal purple cyclone that my mother and I had embraced so, perhaps held a more to the hue of sage and lavender, a small tear may have chocked in my throat.
I turned the corner again, and a wave of nausea curled into my stomach and chest as The Children’s Place loomed a it’s giant blue neon glow. Seeking bravery, I wandered in, hoping no one would see, hoping to keep my secret a bit longer with me.
For the first time in over five years I made my way into that mall that held such an iconic setting for so many chapters in my life. I stand now at the door, holding two tiny hands and feeling like a stranger in a strange land. The green and purple are no long their to greet me. Everything is simple now, modern. The idea of a multifunctional mall like this is no longer foreign, and they have found themselves spending millions to place themselves back in the mold to what they feel the customers are seeking. Where once we publicized exciting sights, and experiences, now we publicize comfortable charging stations.
The changes though are clean, mature, and disciplined. Through the seasons the mall has become all grown up, and with that I can relate.
Shopgirl Wants to Know:
- Did your family ever vacay at the mall?
- Do you have a mall you’ve grown old with?
Until next time fan boys and girls—>
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