Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Strange Kinship of a Shopping Mall

At the mall, before she realized I was taking her picture.

The first time I put Henrietta's car seat in the back of our Toyota, I understood minivans. It felt like an epiphany: Oh, that's why. So the dang car seat fits.

I had the same feeling today, when I went to the mall for something. I put the baby in her stroller, passed the profoundly-out-of-my-pricerange shoes in Macy's, and realized, oh, this is what malls are for. Malls are for moms.

It's pleasant. You can walk and walk, no matter the weather. You can look at pretty things. When Henrietta is older we can hang at the playground. And here's the kicker: if you need stuff from multiple stores, you don't have to get the kid in and out of the car seat 87,000 times. And heaven knows that limits my activity in the outside world. But at the mall, you just stroll on over, and bam! Whatever you'd like is right there. This mall even has a Target attached. I don't see that I need anything else in this world.

{Aside: I can't even tell you how weird it is that this is my life. But apparently it is. It seemed like today, more than any other day, I became a suburban housewife. I have arrived. It's a weird place, but not bad.}

The moment she realized I was taking her picture.

I bought the little thing I actually needed, and then I decided we'd take our daily walk right there in the
mall. The two of us wandered for I don't know how long. I bought some crappy food court sushi that was somehow satisfying. I got an ice tea from Teavana, a store I am a wholehearted sucker for. I took shameless advantage of the Lindt store truffle sample. I shook my head in bafflement at the foul smell wafting from Abercrombie (What is that smell?!). The slimy yet charming man at the Dead Sea Cosmetics booth tried his best to talk me into some very fancy item for my daily beauty routine. And all along the baby played with her feet and smiled for strangers and looked all around and ate a cracker and a piece of orange bell pepper and was completely entertained. Unless I stopped walking for too long. Then she freaked out.


Her immediate reaction, upon realizing I was taking her picture. I don't even pay her for it.
We passed a lot of moms pushing strollers, a lot of new moms, newer than me even. And I felt this sort of kinship with them. They looked tired and their hair needed some love and their clothes were trying to cover up a body that was unrecognizably lumpy. And they were my people. I felt like I was seeing my people.  In that great cavernous space, we pushed our life's all-consuming meaning around in strollers, lagged behind our babies' sweetness, worked the life back into our legs. We imagined buying little overpriced sundresses and giant puppets, and we considered buying our husbands new bluejeans. We stopped in stores we used to love and fingered spring dresses for us in smaller sizes. We treated ourselves to chocolate. We nodded at each other as we passed.

4 comments:

Amara said...

"We pushed our life's all consuming meaning around in strollers"! Love that line. What a strange place it is to put that meaning. The profound buckled into the prosaic!

Meeshab said...

Is it a foul smell? Is it? A foul store, yes!

Deja said...

It is a weird place to put it, Amara!

Meesh, it was totally foul. The worst kind of teenage perfume stink.

belann said...

You nailed the whole shopping mall experience. Loved it! And, loved charming HP posing for the camera.