The holiday rush seems to have come to an end. The parking lots at the local malls are no longer filled to capacity. All that remains are the sky-high piles of snow turned a dirty grey. Rick has been asked to stay on as a part-time associate at the Boston Store so I have retained my job as chauffer in our one car family. On occasion, I’ll arrive a little early and stroll through the mall’s halls, its then I have the time to contemplate the state of what is.
During the holiday season, Santa sat on his throne with a line of parents holding eager little believers waiting to tell Santa their most dreamed of present for under their tree. Shoppers jostled the corridors with bags from the Gap and Sears. Gene Autry’s Christmas songs floated continuously over the heads of shoppers out walking the mall. Things felt good. Retailers were wearing smiling masks.
Last night, when I went to pick Rick up, a little before closing, I pulled the Ford Escort into a spot close to the door. The temperature had dropped to the single digits. I was glad the lot wasn’t full. By the time I got inside I was chilled to the bone even though the walk had been short. Inside the mall Gene Autry’s songs of Christmas had been replaced with the innocuous sounds of muzac as workers disinterestedly dismantled Santa’s village in the middle of the mall. The bustle of before had dissipated into a trickle of shoppers and a few groups of teenagers hanging out looking bored as they aimlessly traversed the mall from one end to the other and back again. It was then I noticed the smiley masks had come off the retailers. The gates had come down on some of the establishments you’d expect to have faded away; the Christmas specific stores and kiosks were the first to fold for the season, but there were many more unexpected gates now down and padlocked for a final time. Zales Jewelry had emptied its cases of all its gems and watches. The signs outside its doors had been ripped off leaving big pockmarks on the mall walls. As I stood in Claire’s while Emmy contemplated how to spend her gift card I heard the manager of Buddy Squirrel tell her friend at Claire’s that they would be closing the following day and transferring her to the Hilldale store. It seemed the more I looked around the more “For Rent” signs were being posted where stores selling menswear and eyeglasses and things for the home had been only a few days before.
Rick and I had been discussing goals and both of us were leaning toward opening a store of our own, a small store with an office for our design business in the back. To succeed in Madison you need a brick and mortar presence. It’s always important to have a goal no matter what stage of life you are at or what your present state of affairs might be, even when that goal seems so far in the distance. So now I’m taking inspiration from a republican candidate for the soon to be vacant democratic senatorial seat from Connecticut, Linda McMahon. The inspiration is in the process, not the results. I have yet to metamorphosize from a democrat to a republican. However, this woman and her family went from bankruptcy and watching her home and belongs being auctioned off to becoming the CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment organization. When someone can turn smoke and mirrors into millions it paves the way for us to dream our dreams and to dream big when we may have very little.
This year the artist, Robert Indiana, changed his signature message of sixties “Love” to a new message for twenty-ten “Hope”. With so many obstacles yet to overcome, we’re committed to staying on the horse and turning our misfortune into opportunity under the guiding wing of hope.