Wednesday, April 30, 2014

California as a Stop on the Road to Hawaii

California was almost like a test run for the next part of the upcoming excitement, which was Hawaii. The only down side was the Midwestern cold seemed hellbent on keeping me in its clutches, and during the trip the entire state was having the coolest week in months. Of course. Chicago, in the meantime, had a sudden warm spell, which ended as soon as the plane from California landed at O’Hare.

I’ve really started to anthropomorphize the constant cold of the Chicago winter. As I had one weekend left before the trip to Hawaii, I thought I would like to do some shopping. This was sort of where I hit a wall with America. I wanted to shop the way I liked to go out shopping in Korea: I wanted to go out, look at store fronts, sit and people watch, and when I got tired see if there was a movie playing, and if not hop over and hit a bar and have a drink or two before heading home.

Sadly, the big blustering markets of Korea were six thousand miles away. The ajjumas who knew me by appearance (if not by name) were not accessible. The bustling downtown scenes with a thousand coffee shops, movie theaters, and millions of people, were all far away. And the longer I thought about it the more I came to realize that the only way I was going to be able to do what I wanted to dorambling eye-shopping with food, maybe a movie, and most certainly with a drinkwas to go to the mall.

In all honesty, I really disliked mall shopping, but if I wanted to walk, see as many stores as possible, and meet all my other random requirements, I was stuck with the mall. So I bit the bullet and informed my love that I’d like to be dropped off at the mall for most of Saturday afternoon, which he was happy to do since he was going to be very busy.

I arrived around noon, found the food court, and managed to find something without carbs that I could eat. Sitting in a high chair in the food court felt stupid and strange and exposed, for some reasons. However, I’ve been in more tightly packed food courts in China, with just the same kind of menagerie of people. At that point I decided I needed to get over the constant comparison of Mall vs Asia, and just try to enjoy myself. With that thought, I wandered off for a clothing store, listening to my music, taking in the many sights. The colors were as expected, with teenagers and unwilling parents walking about, or gangs of teenagers with no parents. I didn’t grow up living near a mall so I never understood the fascination of hanging out in mall spaces with friends. I preferred hanging out in my own room reading a book. However, I suppose if the point was to be free to walk, talk, eat, and drink with an adult, the mall made a good destination.

The walking was nice and I got lost only once. I found a few clothing shops, spent far too much time in one trying on things and vetting clothes for my Hawaiian trip and beyond. I found a pretty dress that appeared to be the only one of its kind in the store. I argued about prices of clothes with people in English, which may or may not have been rude. I hit a bookstore and checked movie showtimes, realizing as I checked the clock that the only movie I might want to see was going to be packed with children and families at that hour and I would have more fun in a bar, which is where I eventually wound up, having a few glasses of wine and an espresso martini. I sent out smoke signals to my love that my time was slowly finishing and that I wouldn’t mind coming home soon.

By the time he got around to nabbing me from my day of walking and looking and shopping, the air had changed and the weather was balmy and warm, practically summer like, and suddenly I did not feel so bad about either the mall or America or Chicago or the weather. It may have been the espresso martini.

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