Sunday, March 22, 2009

West Edmonton Mall

The mall was a strange occurance. Just something I wanted to see (not necessarily participate in, just see), and I went out of my way to hop a bus and check it out. All the express buses the for the day, I caught the #1, an extrodinarily-long route with many stops. While this at times seemed like an inconvenience, it was really a semi-hidden, semi-obvious blessing. The ride there was in the daylight, so I was able to observe the change from downtown to outskirts, in class, in upkeep, in charm (the respective levels of the former not always in ways one would expect). Even within the edges of downtown, there were small-time, small-budget establishments whose edging on run-down gave them character rather than a sense of repulsion. I am having a hard time deciphering between whether Edmonton has hidden charm, or pockets of. I think it is pockets of; there are sections of town that seem impersonal and boxy, like the South portion we first drove into. However, there were sections of town that were positively charming, like when you come to the bridges of the river valley and first see the large river and raiven that edge directly, steeply up to meet downtown. Brilliant. I digress.

There were of course some characters on the bus. There was a man who was smiley and giggly, to the point that you could not tell if he was friendly or drunk. There was the heavily-accented but soft-spoken old Greecian woman who I sat next to, with whom I exchanged a couple of small conversations - just enough for it to be pleasant. There was the too-young-mom whose ambitions clearly got overlooked, but that was overshadowed by how much she clearly loved and enjoyed her young son, who spent the majority of the ride scream-giggling out of joy (which I surprisingly for the most part enjoyed). On the way back, there was a woman sitting next to me who inched on passive-aggressive elbow-wars (which I sometimes get pulled into, and this was one of those times). Such occurances can be frustrating, but this time they were not for me, because I was content in observing, both the negative and the positive. Both need to exist for a well-rounded world. And it of course always helps when you have prescribed the situation its own soundtrack, this time Collective Soul, self-titled. It is like watching an abstract film that has both a sound score and subconcious commentary. All if you choose to observe. I digress yet again.

My trip to the mall was also made pleasant by my bus driver, who not only made sure I understood the routes I needed, but also joked with me. I arrived at the mall 50 minutes before closing time with no stress in my heart because I knew I would not be there for long. I had come to simply observe, and that was whole-heartedly the extent of my wishes. I parted with my Greecian friend and made my way into the white stone fortress.

The best way I can describe it was that it was its own strange little world. I choose strange in the fact that, to me, it does not have a positive or negative connotation in particular, it just quirkily IS. Exists. I felt neither positive or negative judgement toward the place (as I expected to, of course the judgement being the later of the options), just strangeness. Its, strange, isolated existence, both geographically and meta-physically, were enough to baffle me and make me giggle simultaneously. I am glad for its existence, simply so I can marvel at its strangeness, and enjoy the fact that the mall that had too many stores to count, a casino, an amusement park, a water park, a skating rink, demo platforms, fountains, Chinatown, a friggin pirate ship floating in a little sea in a rotunda, and probably many other equally-baffling things that I forgot to mention, a place that probably housed many who had spent away their entire day, took me only 45 minutes and a Tim Horton's coffee (to make change for the bus of course). Though fakeness seemed to permeate the walls, as I came across both a Euro-walk and a Chinatown that wre given their character and strive toward authenticity with plastic, molded architectural likenesses on the wall, I can STILL level with the mall's existence. A slice of life. It just made me grateful for my passion to get out and see 'the real thing,' and my growing ability to see things offered for purchase as 'just stuff.' Truthfully, there was so much to look at, let alone DO, that there was to much at which to look. Though I am admittably easily-overwhelmed, this was overwhelming. For some, it must be an enjoyable experience. For others, it turns them away and toward a quest for the simple. Seemingly, there is polarity in everything; Even the mall.