So on Tuesday my friend asked me to accompany her and her children to the mall, and I thought, but I should be writing and then I thought, but if one does not experience life, how can one write about it? So I agreed to go, only to gather material. Also they have an H&M.
So off we went, and the first thing my friend Abby tells me is that she's almost completely out of gas, that in fact we would be lucky to make it to the gas station. Make it there we do, and while her car is being filled I ask, "So, how empty was it? Was the light on?" and she says, "For two days." And that right there would be the difference between me and Abby, or maybe between me and most people in the world. If the gas in the car dips below a quarter of a tank I'm twitching. If it's on empty I'm afraid to sit in it, because maybe I'll tip the gas tank a little and the gas will, I don't know, slosh over to the other side and then the car can't get to it? I'm not clear on how cars work. But there's Abby, mentally stable Abby, cheerfully toting around her children, the tank filled only with residue and memories. I'm just glad she told me this when we got to the gas station because I don't think I would have lived those few blocks.
Abby's a new friend of mine, and she's one of those people who when you meet them your insides are screaming BFF! BFF! And you're trying to act all cool and collected and blasé about when you might set up a playdate, but secretly you just want to have a date with only her and ditch the kids and run away together; is that weird? She's got a great son who is Henry's age, and the two of them are so compatible, two gentle souls who want only to build Legos and then build some more Legos. Which is such a refreshing departure from his other friends, who set fires and mug the disabled.
Tank full, we made it to the mall, with only minimal screaming on her baby's part. I tried to chat up the two-year-old, but she just glared at me, because I wasn’t there with a child, and what good was I, anyway? Abby and the girls dropped me off at H&M. I needed a fall coat, and by the way I needed MANY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. I barely heard them leave, what with the pile of clothing I had gathered on top of myself as I rolled around in the aisles. I haven't shopped without Henry in too long.
We were on a tight schedule, so I made my purchases—my delicious, delicious purchases—and a few minutes before we had to leave, I headed over to Old Navy, where Abby and children were to be found. Only I had never been to this mall and had no idea where Old Navy was. And this mall featured several tears in the fabric of space and time, so you would walk over to Section A and then suddenly you were on a fishing boat and everyone was talking in Old Norse. I began to walk faster and faster, and as I did my embarrassing walk-run-walk, walk-run-walk, my thinking went thisaway:
1. Abby's probably waiting for me, and now she's going to walk over to H&M. We'll miss each other.
2. She'll be late to pick up her son, and it will be all my fault.
3. She's going to hate me so much.
4. Good going, Alice. You just had to buy your stupid cheap clothes that will disintegrate within a month.
5. I am a terrible person. Who deserves to be abandoned in the mall.
6. I will die here.
While walk-run-walking I accosted a saleswoman to ask for directions. I attempted a casual air when I shrieked EXCUSEMEWHEREISOLDNAVY? She backed away—apparently I didn’t pull it off—and pointed down one of the many wings of the mall, the one that hadn't been visible before because it had traveled to an alternate dimension. Sure enough, there was Old Navy, and there was Abby, shopping away, oblivious to the insane little drama churning in my head. Until now, that is, because she reads my blog. Crap.