Though reminiscing one's childhood is often cliche and sometimes boring for listener's who "weren't there", I feel compelled and a little desperate to share with you bits about mine. I've always been fascinated by eschatology; the study of the end of things. Perhaps this curiosity came to light after my Father passed away, but in truth I've always been very nostalgic, which I inherited from him.
Yesterday, a dear childhood friend and I journeyed to the Del Amo mall; my childhood mall and the fifth largest in the United States. It was build in 1975 and boy was it obvious! If the burgundy cement benches, speckled and urine-hued tile flooring had a voice, they would probably whisper, Help. Nevertheless, this was the place I spent after-school hours with my Mom, picking up Clinique products for her face at Macy's. This is the place I begged my Dad to take me to buy clothes from The Limited Too, so I could fit it with my peers in the 6th grade. This was the place I saw my first public Christmas decorations...you know, because malls practically start decorating in August. And this is the mall my Dad allowed me and my friend, Jessica, to go by ourselves. Armed with his giant, 50 pound 'mobile phone', 20 bucks and a promise to be outside our "usual" mall entrance, between Starbucks and Old Navy, at 1:30pm, my Dad dropped us off. We spent 2 hours navigating the 52,000sq ft mall. I had never felt so independent, so grown up. We made it safely back into my Dad's pearl white, 1995 Nissan 300ZX right on time and I can still hear him telling us, "You girls have earned the right to come to the mall by yourselves again. I'm so proud of you." It was also this mall I frequented after my Dad died. Just wandering around, in need of a familiar place.
Yesterday, as my friend and I drove up to my usual entrance I noticed it was fenced off. As I looked closer I realized behind the fence was...rubble. Debri. Pieces of ugly cement burgundy benches. Where is my mall? Where is my Dad? Where is my childhood? Shocked, but very ready with my emotions, I began to cry. In the chilly, late March southern California air, with the sun illuminating every inch of the mall fragments, my dear friend opened her arms to me, where I, a twenty-seven year old woman, wept for the piece of my childhood that was now officially gone, to remodel and make room and new memories for someone else's childhood.
My Dad always told me that things change just as often as they stay the same. But unfortunately, the choice is often not yours as to what stays and what goes. Good one, Dad.
So here is a piece of my childhood and a poem about leaving it. I thank you for hanging with me and letting me share my truth.
"Wrapping up My Childhood"
I knew my childhood was coming to an end
Like characters of a play wrapping up their storyline
A roller coaster I hoped would accidentally go one more time around the track.
I wanted it to stay a bit longer,
I enjoyed playing “teacher”.
I appreciated knowing I have a body
But not classifying it as big or small.
It was fun being a ballerina in the supermarket,
A mommy when I diapered my dolls,
An actress, like, all the time.
I wanted to keep sitting on my Dad’s lap,
While he let me drive his car in an empty lot
At 4 miles per hour.
I waned to keep dressing up in my Mom’s clothes,
Equip with shoulder pads,
And giant earrings that gave me a headache.
I enjoyed eating in a restaurant and then lying down in the booth
Because I was a child
Children can get away with that.
But then the season changed
I knew it was happening
Like a New Yorker can feel Autumn coming.
My childhood ended when I accidentally wore a see-through bathing suit to a sixth grade pool party
My childhood said good-bye when I didn’t earn a Citizenship Award at school for the first time
And no one told me why
My childhood and I parted ways when I realized
people and places from my childhood could disappear without warning.
My childhood was fed
paid the bill
left the restaurant and forgot to leave me a tip.
Good bye, Del Amo 1975-2014
Thank you for the memories. I'll always remember how beautifully outdated you were.