For Christmas my father gave me a $100 gift certificate to N**dstr*m's, a department store at the King of Prussia mall. "Dad!" I had said, "Thank you so much! But I never go to the mall!" "Guess you'll have to now."
Almost three months later I did go to the mall. I met my friend Bev there yesterday, "at the piano," which is where one meets one's friends at this particular store. At first I was intimidated by the fashionable shoes that were almost all over $200, so we moved to purses. Also very expensive, but I love to touch good leather. I did find a really nice little black and red holder for cards. You know, all those annoying cards for coffee clubs, car wash certificates, charge cards that you technically never planned to apply for but you did because you couldn't resist the discount offered at the time. In short, I bought one more thing to hold all the other dumb things I shouldn't have gotten in the first place. Still and all, it cheered me up for reasons I don't want to think about, and the sales clerk was all, like, "It's so handy! It matches your purse, too."
Next I picked out a funky scarf with different gorgeous fabrics, mostly silk, sewn together in large patches. It was on sale, so I was beginning to feel slightly virtuous again. Then I bought some beautiful drop earrings with pink stones that reflect light in a shimmery, quiet way. Then, I . . . wait. No more money! It's amazing, how quickly you can drop $100 in this store.
I hadn't been to this mall since I was pregnant with Will, so it was almost six years ago. At the time, with my big belly and Jack a toddler, it wasn't especially enjoyable, although I remember loving the "mothers' room" part of the ladies' restroom. I wanted to lie down and sleep on the velour couches. I think my friends and I stayed in that room for more than half an hour. The time before that, I had shopped for bridesmaid's dresses with my two best friends. That was exciting, but we were on a mission, and so "relaxing" is not the word for how that felt.
But yesterday? That was different. We moseyed. We chatted. It felt like we had all the time in the world. We ambled into a Cr*ne's Stationery store, which I never even knew existed. I like 100% rag paper stationery at least as much as I like soft leather. And the beautiful pens! I don't get out much. I bought some lovely robin's egg blue notecards. Someday maybe I'll actually send them. Then Bev and I had lunch at N*rdstr*m's Cafe. So elegant for ladies who lunch. We caught up on some gossip and flattered each other, as one does in these situations. Finally, we strolled one more time through the sunlit, immaculate mall, lined with high-end boutiques and peopled by slim well-groomed smiling humans. And I, I, a self-professed hater of malls, thought, "I love this."