Wow. I had no idea that when I first moved to the Seattle area, I was living not far from a piece of American history. According to this article, the Northgate Mall was the first shopping center in the country to be designated as a mall. I went there a few times, but only to go to the movies.
I hate malls now for the same reasons I loved them when I was a teenager. The crowds. The endless walking. The opportunities to spend your money on a whole host of stuff that you don’t really need. Malls suck the energy out of my fugal, lazy, introverted soul.
Nowadays, on the rare occasion that I visit an old-style indoor mall, it feels more like a ghost town. Instead of the crowds these places were made for, I’m often the only person walking the halls, and there’s this “I’ve given up on life” vibe that I find extremely depressing. Malls are now where retailers go to die.
So when I read the above-mentioned article and learned of Northgate’s demise, I wasn’t particularly surprised. But I am also not waxing nostalgic for it as many people on social media seem to be. I won’t miss malls any more than I’ll miss that desperate search for a payphone when my car broke down in the pouring rain in the 80’s. It’s the end of an era, and it’s not how I live my life anymore. I wouldn’t want to turn back the clock. Not everything in the past is worth clinging to.
Northgate Mall will be turned into business offices, residential units, and an NHL training center by 2021. Until then, you can watch the few remaining stores disappear one by one, after desperately trying to sell everything that they have, even the mannequins, at insanely low prices.
In no time, nothing will be left except the echoes of the past.
When I was little, I used to fantasize about being locked in a mall after closing time. Of course, for this to work, none of the individual stores would be locked and there would be no security whatsoever. I’d get to spend the night going from shop to shop, getting anything I wanted for free. Clothes, toys, books… I’d also be able to eat whatever I wanted, and in the end, I could sleep in the mattress section of the biggest department store. I never gave much thought to what would happen the next morning.
Funny. My idea of heaven on earth at age nine is my idea of hell on earth now. I avoid malls whenever possible. If I wind up in one more than once a year, something has gone seriously wrong in my world.
The older I get, the less interested I am in accumulation. I recently went to a craft fair and enjoyed myself immensely. I liked seeing the creativity and admiring the craftsmanship, but not once did I have even the slightest desire to buy anything.
Stuff just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I don’t think I’ve shopped until I’ve dropped since my early 20’s. Part of that is, of course, because finances are tight. But mostly I look at objects as things that I will have to lug to wherever my next address will be, and after having moved across country with a ton of crap that I’ve since disposed of, I just don’t see the point. The mere contemplation of the sheer weight of it all makes me tired.
Now I’d much rather collect digital photographs of my life experiences. I prefer to remember living rather than bury myself in a mound of possessions. I also pity the poor schmuck (likely my sister) who will have to sort through and dispose of all this junk when I shuffle off this cluttered mortal coil, so for her sake, I try to keep it to a minimum.
As I sit here, I can’t think of a single thing I want or need besides groceries. Because of that, I am more generous with myself when it comes to food. I try to buy local and organic whenever possible and cost be damned. I look forward to when my farmer’s market reopens for the season. I look at these purchases as gifts to myself, for my well-being. And the better I feel, the less I look to inanimate objects for my happiness. So it comes full circle.