(Picture credit goes to Tumblr.)
Tonight I’ve been sitting around and living in my personal corner of nostalgia. It’s sounding really ridiculous for me after writing that sentence, but I’m really feeling the warmth of the neon lights and weirdly distance smell of popcorn and hairspray which derives from my definition of nostalgia.
I went to the mall today with my mom and grandparents for our annual holiday shopping trip. I hate shopping; I try to avoid it to a comically insane level. Shopping for clothing is my equivalent to going to the dentist and getting a root canal done. I never enjoy going to the mall with my mother, except during the holiday season. There’s something different about the annual holiday shopping trip; everyone is in a good mood, and we’re all fine aimlessly looking around. The feeling definitely takes me back to weekend trips to the mall during my childhood.
I don’t know how it started, but there was a period of time where my parents took me to the mall every Saturday. I would walk around all of the stores and just stare at everything. For some reason the atmosphere was intoxicating for me. I loved going to record and media stores with my Dad; I remember the dark blue neon lights on the ceiling of Camelot Music. I think seeing those neon lights and associating them with my pure excitement over looking at music and video tapes is the source of my strong association of shopping malls and nostalgia.
My grandmother would laugh and call me a “mall rat” when she would ask me what I had done that weekend. I thought about going to the mall constantly! Escaping to the mall was always my biggest daydream subject whenever I would sit in my third grade math class. I was always so happy at the mall. It seemed like an entire different world; it was definitely an escape from my third grade hell which consisted of multiplication tables and church choir.
Overtime my favorite stores started to close, and they were replaced with other stores that didn’t hold my interest. I stopped going to the mall and opted not to hang out with friends when they wanted to go to the mall. It wasn’t until I went to college and discovered the mall in my college town. Its layout was totally similar to my old childhood mall, and its music rotation was almost exclusively 80’s music, which I’d always had an odd association with nostalgia. Older music provides me with a sense of nostalgia for a place I’ve never been. I’ve spent so much time wondering if that makes any sense?
I spent a lot of time during my freshman year of college hanging out at the mall with my boyfriend. We would go a lot on Saturday nights and just walk around. It was like entering a new world that was so much more innocent than the one I currently lived in. I slipped back into that weird longing for the mall like I had in my childhood; we would skip class and hang out at the mall when it first opened and we were alone with the early mall walker dwellers. We felt like the empty mall was ours.
I’ve often tried to explain to people how the inside of my brain looks. I’ve been so sure that my brain mirrors a shopping mall hallway adorned with neon lights and a faraway water fountain. After spending much time trying to analyze why I have always loved shopping malls, I still can’t figure out why. I think history has a lot to do with it. History and culture are two aspects that play a role in my personal relationship with the shopping mall, so it will always be an ongoing study for me. I guess I will always feel my history whenever I go to the mall. the concept of the mall has and will continue to change, but it will always remain tucked away for me in a faraway metropolis in my head.