A feeling of fear washes over me at the Mall. What if Naomi and I get separated from each other? We’ve left our cell phones in the car – I can’t begin to imagine how I will find her if she suddenly disappears. So I tell her, if we get lost, meet me at the restaurant area we walked through when we first entered the mall. OK?
I stare at her to make sure she understands. The. Restaurant. Area.
Entrance…. I look at a map illustrating the many entrances and floors. Entrance C4. OK?
OK, she responds and I can let out my breath that I’ve been holding.
Because we’re in the largest mall in North America. West Edmonton Mall.
Do we really want to be here?
With over 700 stores, a skating rink, innumerable restaurants with giant TV screens, a replica of one of Christopher Columbus’s ship (La Pinta??? The Santa Maria???), a sizeable beach with surf, a zip line where you can swoosh over said ship, a roller coaster (which I never get to see…) and many other attractions that I miss out on, I mean AYKM? (Are you kidding me?), we just have to visit the West Edmonton Mall.
Even if we’re not Mall types (unless we’re shopping). Which we aren’t today. But could be considering the no tax system they have in Alberta, compared to Quebec where you pay close to 20% in a variety of taxes.
Anyway, for the short time that we’re there, before Naomi pulls me out, short of breath and despising the place, we do not get lost from each other. I do walk around mouth agape like a little kid, staring at the replica ship, the dolphin show, and just the enormity of the place, where from certain vantage points its long halls recede into the distance like a massive futuristic city.
Even parking there highlights its size as it becomes necessary to access the outdoor excess parking lot across the street in order to get in. The indoor parking lot, you see, already enormous, is full…
What is surprising is how empty many of the stores are. You would never see a Simons in Montreal as empty as the one we strolled through at West Edmonton Mall. Other smaller boutiques have sales clerks lolling around refolding sweaters and chatting with each other. I did walk into the largest sports store I’ve ever been in, a SportChek store that mirrored the Mall in that it went on and on.
I never got so tired looking for a new cap as I did that day.