I wasn’t looking forward to anything in particular during my layover in Minneapolis, other than catching a few z’s and doing some writing. Being locked in a hotel room with nineteen hours to myself was all the excitement I needed. With this kind of solitude, productivity was bound to creep out.
Here, there, distractions everywhere! Right across the street and a short stroll from my hotel was Mall of America. I’d completely forgotten that this nationwide jewel existed in the most random city of these United States. Okay, probably not THE most random, but I’m going for affect here. Anyway, I had to check out the hype! Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s saved to my bucket list on Pinterest, so it had to happen. I made the adult decision to head directly over to the mall as soon as we got in, so that I could get back early enough to complete the aforementioned productivity.
Cue the Aladdin theme song, because what I walked into was a whole new world! My mind is still boggled at how a legitimate theme park is lit-er-uh-lee inside of a mall. I was honestly just trying to get some seventy five percent off perfume from Bath and Body Works, but a girl encountered so much more. I stumbled around looking up at the rides, mouth agape in awe. Before my eyes was my childhood (and let’s be honest, my adulthood too- I still watch cartoons). I phoned my bestie in utter joy, and tried to recreate with words every magnificent detail my eyes were privy to in that moment. Desperate for her to share in my excitement, I even sent her a super pixelated video of the theme park! I wanted to make history and she agreed that it was my destiny to buy a wristband and get on the rides: Avatar, Ninja Turtles, Soongebob, Rugrats- heaven!
Here’s where my story goes downhill.
Shortly after recovering from my state of shock, my friend had to get off the phone and I was left to fiend for myself. My plan was to explore the rest of the mall for a bit and then return to the rides for a finale. As I sauntered throughout the four stories of shops, I noticed all sorts of pairings: families with children, couples, friends, grandparents chasing after grandkids, I even saw two boy scouts. Then it dawned on me- it was Saturday. The day where people do their best to make time for one another. And like a punch to the gut, I realized that I didn’t want to get on those rides by myself. From the moment I stepped into the mall, I had harbored the fact that I didn’t want to do any of it alone. My eyes welled as I slowed my pace to a somber drag. Embarrassed, I quickly flung the tears to the floor. I knew I was feeling sorry for myself, but I was over it. I committed to getting food and getting the heck out of there. I knew that once I was back in the confines of my hotel room, it wouldn’t feel like a Saturday and I wouldn’t want my family and friends as much.
Problem was, I couldn’t get out of the mall without being tempted by all the trendy stores. So what’s an American girl to do when she’s feeling down and is lost under the covering of a building with hundreds of stores? Money or not, she shops. And so I did. I mean, you can only go as crazy as the two digit sum in your bank account, so how much damage could I really do.
Retail therapy is for reals, but it’s results are short lived, which prompts us to indulge in buying more and more things. I bought makeup to enhance my looks, perfume because TSA threw mine away at the airport, pizza because there’s never not a time, and Nestle Toll house chocolate chip cookies for comfort food. The purchases gave me something to look forward to, but what they really did was suppress real feelings and emotions I should’ve dealt with. I did pray initially and I knew that I was just having a moment, but I still felt like I needed something physical to appease my emotions.
So many people have so many things, but wake each day to hearts filled with anger and sadness. The more things we acquire, the more we feel we must live up to silly social standards. The parts of our lives that need to be addressed are buried so deeply beneath our materialism that we believe the only way out is to buy more. Eventually, the weight of everything- material and mental- will cave in on us. If the human experience embodies nothing but love and freedom, it is all it was created to be. But we must clear out our superficial ideals of material happiness if we wish to be liberated.
The cookies were good and the perfume smelled fine, but it wasn’t until my (other) best friend returned my call, that I truly felt at ease. She kept me company as she worked to finish an upcoming project. The ease of conversation, the outbursts of laughter, and listening to her try to keep up with her husband’s video game, all made me feel like I was home. For over an hour, we spoke and not once during that time did my bag of things attempt to comfort me.