Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Death of my Childhood

Boy, going through your old memory cards is quite the trip down memory lane.  I came across these pictures from a road trip a few years ago and I think at the time I was too emotional to write it and then forgot about it.

Like any 80's/90's girl, if you were within a 10 mile radius of a mall, that is where you spent your weekends.  You'd grab some friends and lap the mall a good 50x looking for cute boys, grabbing an ice cream, trying to look at all the dirty stuff at Spencers Gifts without looking like a perv, buying new buttons for your jean jacket, picking out some rad earrings or faux eyeglasses you might regret 10 years later from Afterthoughts and my friends and I were weird enough to go try on wedding dresses at JC Penney.  Then of course you had to make sure you had some quarters on you so you could hit up Aladdin's Castle but don't expect to catch the attention of any dudes in there because unless you were made of 16 bit pixels, you weren't going to get a second glance.

I can't count how many times I fell in love at the mall.  The first man who broke my heart worked at the mall ice cream shop.  We actually became good friends and I wanted more and later I found out he was gay, so there's that.  My friend and I loved his co-worker too.  (I use love in terms of what love means to a 7th/8th grader at the time)  Man he was a cutie.  Then there was the hottie at Chess King.  I mean it becomes pretty obvious you're getting stalked by an 8th grade girl when she's shopping at a men's store.  Subtlety was not my strong point. 

As friend's came and went out of my life, the one constant was the mall.  My mom would drop us off and pick us up at the JCP entrance and I was only late once because I didn't want to give her a reason not to take me there.  When I got my own car, it was time to go whenever the heck I wanted and I did.  I loved the old standbys like Jean Nicole (where I got my first lace Madonna skirt for my 12th birthday) and I longed to be older so I could raid Wet Seal, County Seat, Rave and the like.  Those were the days and you thought it would always be there.

When we were driving through a town, we saw this abandoned mall and something in us told us to stop.


To our surprise, the doors were open and some lights were on so we went in.


As I saw this dying tree with its leaves on the ground, I started to tear up.


These plants, storefronts like this though we had no idea what it was, were pieces of our childhood no matter what mall it was.


Those empty display cases...


the mold and water damage taking over the ceiling...


the calcified imprints of a wish someone once made hoping it would come true...


It may not have been my mall as a kid but it might as well have been because this is the way of so many places that we've spent our childhoods.


As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I mourned the loss of a friend of a friend.  Because malls from coast to coast all felt somehow related and familiar no matter where it was and I couldn't help but feel like the death of a big part of my childhood was upon me.


R.I.P. malls everywhere.

Share your favorite mall memories below.

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4 comments:

  1. My folks were pretty strict about me not "just hanging out" at the mall. I always wanted to be one of the pack of mall rats, but unless there was a reason to go I didn't get to. When we did go, my dad usually gave me a time limit and some time to wander, but it was few and far between.

    When I was in high school I got a job in the mall and a driver's license so I did spend more time there, but once I was working there a lot of the magic had worn off. I did meet one of my first boyfriends there and it was kinda magical. He later broke my heart, but not because he was gay, just because he was kind of a jerk.

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  2. WOW...this made me tear up too. Back in high school (I graduated in 1991) my friends and I all used to hang out at the mall on the weekends too. Our parents would drop us off, we'd make our rounds in the mall (we hung out at the record store, just like in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and then go to see a movie then they'd pick us up outside of the mall when the movie was over. I remember getting a little sad when they started a Youth Escort Policy for Friday and Saturday nights at our mall where kids under 18 have to have a parent or guardian over 21 with them. Times are different now and I guess a few bad apples spoiled the bunch for high school kids these days. What do high school kids do on weekends now??

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  3. WOW...this made me tear up too. Back in high school (I graduated in 1991) my friends and I all used to hang out at the mall on the weekends too. Our parents would drop us off, we'd make our rounds in the mall (we hung out at the record store, just like in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and then go to see a movie then they'd pick us up outside of the mall when the movie was over. I remember getting a little sad when they started a Youth Escort Policy for Friday and Saturday nights at our mall where kids under 18 have to have a parent or guardian over 21 with them. Times are different now and I guess a few bad apples spoiled the bunch for high school kids these days. What do high school kids do on weekends now??

    ReplyDelete
  4. My mall story is so similar it was like reading my own life. Wow. Our local mall has been in disrepair at best since May Co and Robinsons became Macy's. A huge chunk has been empty for years. A few weeks ago we heard they are going to tear it down and rebuild an outside mall. Big sigh:/ my mall used to be one story and I'd peruse that little haven all day. One year (a long time ago) they built on a second story. Thought I'd die. The theatre closed down around then too Now they are changing it again. I don't like change. Why can't thing study the same?

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