Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
There was this woman I dated a while ago who I used to go to malls with. This was back when malls were still a foundational part of American culture, though even then you could see the signs that they were moving on.
But that didn’t matter to us. For me and her, malls were a personal thing. They were spaces we could be comfortable around each other. There were lots of spaces – including the apartment we shared – where that wasn’t true. Some people click with you when you’re alone and some people click with you when you’re in public. Me and her were public people. And for those few hours walking around, talking about this or that, living in a world of window-shopping and picked-up objects, I think we had a special love.
I went to Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC for the first time in forever. I’d been writing in the morning but my laptop cut itself off to update so I needed a place to be. It was a strange day, a patchy sky, sometimes cloudy and sometimes bursting with a New Year’s sun. There was ample parking. I found a space across from a couple church buses.
Inside, the place was reasonably busy. It still smelled like Christmas – pine trees and peppermint. I walked in and out of stores not really looking at anything, paying more attention to the people, and I saw a lot of store-workers looking drained at the end of a long season. But even that was lovely – fake, hard, unfair, but perfectly predictable, a call-out to a time when walking along a covered boulevard overspending all your credit cards was the pinnacle of living. In the end, I left without buying anything. I’d gotten what I came for.
I remember this one particular time at Southpoint towards the end of that relationship. It was night, we’d gone to dinner, we were walking about an hour before the stores were closing. I think it was summer. There’s a big ceiling light that spans the whole inside of the place. It’s covered in floodlights that change for the season. That night, the lights were undulating shades of blue. It looked like the ocean. Staring up at those lights, I felt like we were a part of something old, fluid, indecipherable. I held her hand and imagined we were on a beach somewhere. A far away place you couldn’t pinpoint. We stayed until close.
Today’s her birthday. Wherever you are, shopping or at home, I hope you have a full heart and restless, excited dreams.
Novel Count: 9,255
Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami
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The breach between the mind and body can’t be healed by more knowledge.Barry Webster, The Lava in my Bones