Sunday, February 28, 2010

The beach vs the mall

I'm beginning to prepare for vacation.  We're headed to the Outer Banks for a week.  I love it there.  The air feels different.  There are broad expanses with no buildings, no people, no civilization.  We will be staying in Avon at the edge of one of the parks, so we'll have 17 miles of sandy beach to walk on should the spirit so move us.  Rarely do we see any people walking along there at this time of year.  It's perfect for silence and deep thinking (as long as the waves crashing don't count as noise!)

In contrast to being at the beach, Chris and I went to the mall yesterday.  It was the first time in over 15 years I'd been to a mall, so it was quite an experience.  (Remember, I told you I'm weird!)  It was such a stimulating experience.  First of all, there was no silence to be had.  The sounds of voices echoed throughout the cavernous space whenever we weren't in a store.  In the stores, there was always loud music blaring.  Visually there was so much to see and to process, it was overwhelming.  We were looking for a pair of shoes for Chris.  He wears size 14.  We'd already been to 4 stores along Midlothian Turnpike, but none of them had anything his size that would fit his feet well.  That was why we decided to brave the Mall.  For three hours we trudged through the packed hallways (hard to believe we're in a recession given how many people were there) looking for black casual leather shoes for narrow feet in size 14.  I think we went to 15 stores.  Eventually we were pulled into the Sleep Number Mattress Store.  That one looked too inviting to pass up!  We lay on the beds one by one and were hypnotized by the very nice saleswoman's pitch about how the beds are made and why.  Chris was very interested in buying one, even though they cost about $2000 just for the mattress.  I told the saleswoman we'd give it some thought and would let her know.  I knew I needed to get him out of there!  They were interesting mattresses and might be helpful for the back pain I've been experiencing for the last year, but I am not ready to spend $2000 for one! 

When we walked out of the store and compared notes, Chris asked me, "How does your back feel?"  I told him it was feeling strained and sore.  He said his was too!  So much for the mattress!  He said he figured we could sort it out so it would be just right.  I feel skeptical.  It was a very good sales pitch though.

Eating at the food court was another experience.  Such a din!  Dinner was fine - teriyaki chicken.  I was thankful for the water.  I tend to get dehydrated when I shop in Malls so needed water badly.  So many people there with their kids crying; teens hanging out, trying to impress each other; couples wandering around; kids ready to go home NOW.  Not much interaction between people other than those already together.  And noise.  And sights and sounds.

A few more stores so we'd been to all of them to find the darn shoes. We stumbled into Sears like survivors onto an island.  We looked at the Lands End area.  Chris found some khakis and shorts for ridiculously good prices.  I bought a winter coat I'd been looking at in their catalogue all winter long - 75% off.  After 3 hours, we'd finally pried open our wallets.

We heaved up our bags and walked wearily to the car which we finally found after pushing the lock/unlock button enough times that we could locate it by sound.  Too hard to remember where it was parked after all that time.

It was a relief to get into the car, a hybrid, with no motor noises, in the dark, and be quiet together as we rode home.  The silence of our home on the cul-de-sac was so welcome.  We are open to the possibility of becoming hermits.  We appreciate simplicity and silence and open space and sparse surroundings.  We love our friends and family and don't really want to be recluses, but it is such a jolt to be confronted by so much excess in a Mall.  Wow.

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