The blinding light bounced off the floors and ricocheted in the gleaming shop windows. Even coming in from the blazing Arizona sun I was momentarily blinded. The startling sharpness was a rebuff not an invitation. I pushed forward dwarfed by the cavernous hallway. A scattering of people drifted by. The casualness in their strides contrasting the head bent purposefulness of their carriage. Isolation cloaked me as I continued my journey into this strange world.
Music lashed out at me from the store fronts, the cadence changing with every step. Intricate displays fell short of their goal. The elaborateness of the displays left me feeling hollow. A glimpse into several stores, as I passed, showed displays offering up their wares to empty aisles. Coming to an intersection, I turned in a circle glancing down the different hallways that spread out like mirrors in a fun house. Relief was a cool balm when I spotted the sign for the food court.
The food court itself gave credence to the maxim that every man is an island. Dinners sat in different configurations of singles, doubles and the odd group of four or more. Each configuration of people sat absorbed into their own world, oblivious to the others around them. Ringed by food stalls, the utilitarian seating was designed more for function than comfort. Like hawkers at a street fare, brightly colored signs beckoned customers away from their competitors. The gleaming floors, harsh light and absence of any discernible smell did not make any offering palatable.
A duo of young girls lounged on a banquet nearby. Lord do not let these young colts be college students, I silently prayed, every one of my 57 years weighing heavy on my shoulders. The two girls were focused on cellphones clutched in their hands, interacting only to share something on their screens. Although similar in the way their long bare legs bounced to an internal beat, they appeared to be an unlikely duo. The young fashionista wore a purple romper that ended well up on her thigh, her long tanned legs ending in strappy sandals made for more looks than walking. Her long blond hair crowned her head in a neat top knot. Her foil lay on her stomach on the banquet, as if taking a brief respite in her bedroom. Once again long tanned legs stretched down to sandals, these of the Birkenstock variety and that held feet clad in pink ankle socks. The sporty outfit was complete with a light gray T-Shirt and the mandatory short shorts these ones denim. Long blond hair was carelessly tied into a pony tail.
A few tables away a vigilant father watched over his daughter, her stroller parked facing him within arms reach. The pink diaper bag/knapsack placed carefully on the table by his right hand. He nonchalantly finished his McDonald’s lunch, only occasionally tearing his eyes away from his prized possession to glance around the room.
Through out my sojourn in the food court people strolled by, the familiar saunter, grim look and their casual purposefulness the only uniting factor.
Suddenly eager to leave the sterile coolness of the mall, I shoved my tablet into my purse and stood. Mirroring those around me, I sauntered down the vacant hallway in search of the warm Arizona sun.