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Never a mall rat

As an excuse to leave the house today, I bussed down to Clackamas Town Center. Some wandering, sone sitting, some reading, some online time, and some soaking in of the still-lingering '80s-mall ambiance.

I'm mostly not drawn to malls. When I was in junior high circa 1987, they flat-out annoyed me. I felt their artifice: they're supposed to feel like plazas, but they felt forced. I didn't want to meet friends there. My (relatively few) friends didn't tend to hang out at them, anyway, so I had less incentive to be a mall rat. And the malls I tended to grow up near weren't convenient — it always had to be a drive. I was already in the habit of walking where I could, but vast expanses of parking are...not usually daunting, but still kind of an annoying barrier. (And sometimes parking lots were daunting, thanks to traffic.)

One of the relatively few malls that felt less daunting was Portland's Lloyd Center. I visited there a lot on my Eighties' visits to see family in Portland; it still always meant driving to the mall (it's four miles from NE Portland's Concordia neighborhood, where all four of my grandparents used to live), but once there, it felt more human-scale than the malls I was used to. And in the 1980s, it still looked much like it had in the 1960s:

I kind of admire the perverse touch of rainy Portland having an open-air mall. Also, I remember those flower-lined steps, and the bird sculpture, that you see in the last of those photos.

Lloyd Center's been remodeled since (a roof!), and is being remodeled again (no more indoor movie theater; a smaller skating rink; more attempts at "creative" office space), but it's still a mall that...that I don't mind. No, it didn't win me over to malls. And I'm definitely not becoming a mall rat at age 42.

But a mall gave me a place to be today, beyond the house.



Whale fluke
Chris Walsh

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