Note: I’ve edited this piece, which I posted earlier elsewhere. It seems to be an emerging pattern: Post, then immediately change it. It’s probably too much for me to expect that anyone would want to read it twice. For that matter, it’s quite a bit to expect that anyone would read it in the first place. So, does it even matter how many times I edit it?
I think I’m venturing beyond memoir. So much of my “reality” is internal: random, scattered thoughts. Thoughts about the past. Thoughts about the future. And here I am now, presently trying to compose them… edit them… create a work that becomes part of my new reality… my ongoing catalogue. Memory is suspect, all the more reason not to dwell there, but use its substance to come up with something new.
So many of the facts are irretrievable. Truth is subjective. Tempting to just make shit up. Don’t worry about it. Suspect memories are their own truth.
Once, we did run
How we chased a million stars
And touched as only one can
-So Long Ago, So Clear, lyrics by Vangelis, vocals by Jon Anderson,
from the album, Heaven And Hell by Vangelis
A hauntingly beautiful song resounds ever still.The above quoted lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with anything that follows. Or they could be relevant in some obscure way, the meaning of which is yet to be revealed, like sense to be had of last night’s dream.
Words, songs, pictures, stories buffet us like the wind … a varicolored spectacle if we take time to notice. It has always been this way, though it seems that these days a far more voices vie for our attention. Hear them or not. The quantity of voices does not assure connection. Expressions may not run concurrent with each other. They may not line up… now… ever.
Cold days in January. Much snow. The wife and I have mostly stayed indoors, but yesterday we decided we’d ride out to the mall and stroll briskly in its warmth and along its corridors. I’m talking about Mall of America.
First, a few facts about the Mall (You will be tested later :-)
Mall of America is the most visited shopping mall in the world. When the Mall opened in 1992, It became the second largest shopping mall in total area and largest in total number of store vendors in the U.S.A.
The Mall of America has a gross area of nearly 5 million square feet, nearly 100 acres, enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside, with two-and-one-half million square feet available as retail space.
The Mall hosts an amusement park: 25 rides and attractions in Nickelodeon Universe®
The Mall occupies the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team and the Minnesota Twins baseball club from 1961 to 1981. A plaque in the amusement park commemorates the former location of home plate.
It’s 5K distance if you walk each of levels 1 through 4. We did them all, then we did some more: past shops of wide variety, eateries and bars; did I mention people? A wide demographic in all shapes and sizes visit this internationally renowned temple of consumerism to be tantalized by its temptations.
We paused momentarily at the home plate plaque, and my mind turned to recollections of summer days and summer nights watching baseball: hometown hero, All-Star Harmon Killebrew, swinging the bat, connecting with a pitch and sending the baseball towering far into the left field stands. The same week that I graduated from high school, Killer blasted a ball 520 feet high into the distant seats of the Met’s second deck, where it rattled off one such seat 8 rows back. Stadium management marked the feat by painting the seat red.
Metropolitan Stadium opened in 1956, as did Southdale Center, but 6 miles away, America’s first fully enclosed climate-controlled shopping center. It remains to this day. Met Stadium was demolished in 1985, after the Twins moved downtown. The rubble was cleared and the lot sat vacant for several years. Groundbreaking for Mall of America took place in 1989, and it opened to the public in 1992.
The Mall plays host to 40 million visitors annually. A cacophony of swirling shapes, colors and sounds assail the senses. But if you look for it, you may find that red stadium seat: high above the clamor of the amusement park and the rush of Paul Bunyan’s Log Chute, just below the roof’s support girders, the seat sits bolted to the Mall’s southeastern wall at the exact height and position where Harmon Killebrew’s home run ball landed. It looks forlorn and alone: silent testimony the monumental blast. Like long ago memories. Going, going, gone.
Continuing our walk, we passed a teenage girl being led away by two uniformed security guards, her hands behind her back, connected by handcuffs. We thought just then of a shop sign we saw earlier. Hauled off, her fate awaits her at The Nordstrom Rack, we mused. An opportunity for growth. Her furtive eyes, made large with dark make-up, belied her innocence.
258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside Mall of America, if it ever came to that.
We … I … considered an intervention: There she is. Trying to sound effusively apologetic: She is our daughter, officers… We, looking concerned: Where have you been? What have you done this time? Yes, of course, officers… we’ll see to it she never does this again. Then we’d bring her home and enslave her. A little help around the house might remedy what ails us, our seasonal affective disorder. Cook, dust, pitch batting practice … other more sinister depravities.
If Mall of America had a retractable roof, nine Eiffel Towers could stand inside.
The wife, ever practical, opined that she might be more trouble than she was worth… We walked on.
Yielded not … Bought nothing.
We returned home to sort through the remains of the day and consider their connections: See if any of the pieces fit, if they ever fit. Later we’d dream of our youth and revisit our longings, await the return of spring training, opening day and walks around the lake.
So long ago, so clear.