last night as i was fighting to stay awake while tim and my high school best friend, jon, were playing zombies ate my neighbors on the super nintendo, i didn't think i would be going to minneapolis today. as had happened a few years ago, scott was at his sister's in
wisconsin and suggested we meet up at the mall of america, coloquially known as "the mega mall."
it wasn't that i didn't want to go; i did. it was more a combination of it was becky and brady's last day in town (not that i don't see them often in provo; it's just... different in minnesota), they were staying the extra day because the roads were looking bad, and, perhaps the deciding factor, it was already 1:30 a.m. and i didn't look forward to getting up 6 hours.
surprisingly, the sleep issue was overcome, although the road concern was not frivolous. i checked numerous weather report sites, and chose to disregard the bold red line on the map, running from my house to the twin cities, signifying "severe road conditions", deciding that the other three reports that don't show any dangers can't be wrong.
3 out of 4 websites were right; i went 77mph the whole way.
the roads were wet, and when the sun broke through, landscape in front of me became brilliantly blinding. i've let owning glasses exclude me from owning sunglasses, and now i was paying for it. so much, in fact, that i gave way to complete humilty and fumbled around for my father's "old man" sunglasses--the over-sized kind that fit over a pair of standard spectacles. the tragedy is that, despite my having only ever seen them worn by aarp card holders, they are actually very convenient and effective. and, since i wasn't trying to impress anyone on the now sepia-toned great plains, i didn't mind like looking like willy wonka.
driving past the town signs, it's easy to see that this is indeed the land of 10,000 lakes: detroit lakes (great swimming), pelican rapids, fergus falls (they were "the otters", and our pep band would cheer for them, too, because it was fun).
i love this state, and every year that i come back, that feeling deepens. i want to photograph it as i see it, the magic what i grew up with and now appreciate, and i drove though beautiful cold fog this morning. i wished for a camera and a place to shoot the trees diminishing into the white atmosphere.
in my mind, the trip takes four hours. but that was under "60 mph" rules. now, it takes three. to get to the belt route, anyway. another 20 minutes to the mall, and then 40 minutes to move from the off ramp to the mall parking ramp, the distance of a ten-minute's walk. we used to stop here the day after thanksgiving, and i loved the energy of it all.
patience provided me a parking spot, and i texted the location of my car to myself, knowing i would otherwise forget the cartesian coordinates: "P4-D8-florida".
i found scott and his wife near the entrance to bloomingdales, looking over the shirts and asking why anyone would pay $247 for a t-shirt. i didn't have an answer for him, but i did want to grab something to eat. as with every other aspecy of the mall, the mega mall boasts two large food courts, epitome's of the mall rat culture in all it's fast food glory. we opted for the fifties-nostalgia burger joint, "johnny rockets", and paid three times what we would for the same meal deal available at in-n-out burger. so be it.
i've never been a mall junkie, yet i often enjoy seeing the great commercialism that makes up so much of who we are, and i like to dip my feet in it. and if you're going to do that, why not enjoy it at its best?
the mall was surging with people. people, people everywhere, and still everyone seemed to fit and make room. every store was advertising sales, usually 50-70% off. i wandered into a jeans store and came out twenty minutes later with what are now my favorite pair of jeans. lucky, indeed.
scott was a great roommate for several years, and got married after he graduated and moved to texas. there's so much to like about him, and his steady and stable disposition make a good addition to any group. i had the chance to briefly meet his wife, angela, over some cheap chinese food earlier this year, but it was fun to get to know her more in the mall. they are perfect for each other, having a nice balance of matching corresponding attributes while alligning together in other traits. being with cool people like that makes me smile.
angela noted that gamestop always smells like smelly boys. i had never thought about this, and wandered in. and then wandered back to her and promptly agreed.
we met up with scott's older siblings and their respective offspring and found the disney store. the youngest got excited over the camp rock paraphenelia while i got excited over the wall.e paraphenelia. the nylon wall.e doll almost won my $9.99, as did the equally-priced eve notebook/journal. i think had wall.e been plush, i would have gone for it. he's a robot, but he should be tactile.
it was a bit of a shame that i drove for fours only to spend three with my friends, but the roads were becoming potentially precarious. i was enjoying the mall so much that i would have liked a friend to go meandering with for another hour or two, but now was not the time. i said goodbye to scott and soon realized that, despite have the location written down, i could not find my car.
ten minutes later and one level down, i was in the car and out on the road. i took 494 west to get here, so i would take 494 east to go back the way i came, right? made sense to me, but either i misunderstood or the civil engineering committee of minneapolis disagreed, because i took a different and longer way back to I-94. don't get me wrong, this was the scenic route, and i got to see the unniversity of minnesota, augsburg college, the state capitol and catherdral in st. paul, and much of the downtown area; it's just that a four-hour drive can get long without anyone else to sing along to the ipod with.
and i got lost again in elk river when i stopped for gas.