This past Saturday I returned to the nearly empty mall with my proper camera to try to get better pictures. I made it halfway through the Fashion District when I heard someone coming up from behind me. "Ma'am..."
I stopped and turned around. It was mall security on a Segway. ("Like Paul Blart Mall Cop?" "Yes, like Paul Blart Mall Cop!") "Sorry, but you're not allowed to take pictures in here."
"Really?" I knew this was bound to happen when I turned up with a professional looking camera. "Aw, that's too bad. It's so beautiful."
He looked up at the skylight. "I agree. It is beautiful. But sometimes these things show up on YouTube with derogatory comments about it being a 'dead mall.'"
"Well that's too bad; I think it's beautiful. Do you want me to take this back to the car—" I gesture to my 20mm lens "Or..."
"No, I trust you. I'm sorry to be the messenger..."
"Don't worry, I won't shoot the messenger." I smiled, nodding again to my camera to acknowledge the pun. "I understand; it's your job."
I circled the rest of the mall, its hallways full of light raining in from the skylights. I watched families circling the central courtyard, with its flying pigs buttressing a gazebo, turned down halls where teens held hands and children squealed as their sneakers squeaked across the tiles. My friend on the Segway, silently whizzed through the lower level now, smiling at the families, blinking up at skylights. I leaned over the railings, stoking memories. A place so full of possibility, inhabited by my imagined stories, looking for its potential future. Dead mall. Sure.
We were all there making it alive, weren't we?
(And for the record, I didn't take another frame. These shots were all taken before I was told to stop taking pictures. I still think it's beautiful. Related: Modern-day Cathedrals)
© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.