When I was a teenager in the 80s, I hung out at the mall. I played in the arcade, had the occasional strawberry julius drink from the Orange Julius store, bought Smurfs and clothes there, but mostly I went hoping to run into cute boys I knew from our church who lived nearby. It was pretty much like the mall scenes in Stranger Things, except there was no demogorgon. After I graduated college, I worked retail in a Mervyn’s store in a mall in Boulder for three years. All of this is to say that malls and I go way back.
Like my younger self, I went to hang out at the mall tonight. I haven’t spent any measurable time in this nearby mall for about two years. I’ve picked things up from there while I remained in my car. I’ve walked into the Lego store for about 3 minutes, masked of course, to look for a coveted set. I know many people have not eschewed malls during the pandemic the way I have. I know many people haven’t blinked an eye about going out indoors in public spaces unmasked, but we had Covid-19 in our house a year ago and I’ve spent the past year trying to avoid getting it again. Tonight, though, my husband and I threw caution to the wind because there was holiday shopping to be done, so we spent a whole hour inside Park Meadows Mall. We went for the last hour the stores were open, so it wasn’t busy like it will be this weekend or the weekend after that, but we were not the only ones who had the same idea.
Once we came through the hallway from the parking lot and hit the main part of the mall it all felt familiar again. The wafting scents from the Nordstrom perfume counter took me right back. It might sound strange, but I took a mindful moment to inhale and be present. I was out in a mall for heaven’s sake. Being a strongly introverted person, I normally don’t enjoy shopping surrounded by other people so I took to pandemic shopping on the Internet from my home like a Labrador Retriever takes to water. But tonight hubby and I actually enjoyed being in and looking around a mall. We spent most of our time in, ironically enough, the Amazon 4-Star store (I had no idea such a thing existed) and a local boutique looking for unique gifts and stocking stuffers. It’s amazing what you miss when you shop with determination rather than curiosity.
In the end, we left with some fun finds we can’t wait to share with our family and friends and the conclusion that we will probably have to return some night next week to finish the shopping we started. We left with something else too, the feeling that maybe it’s time to start getting out a bit more…within reason and as Delta and Omicron allow. We are fully vaccinated and boosted. We can still do the things at off-peak times and find a bit of normalcy. To that end, we’ve also started booking travel for 2022 because we need to move on. If we end up having to cancel because of travel restrictions, we’ll fall off that bridge then.
We’ve had a taste of the freedom of our old lives BC (before Covid), and I think we kind of liked it. Life goes on.