Last Saturday I went to the mall. If you know me well, you know I don't like malls. Malls drain me. I spend less and less time in malls because I seem to leave them feeling like I have been robbed of my life force. What brought me to the mall was that I just happen to have a coupon for Macy's and a big need for some dress pants. So, I endured the visit telling myself that it would be a short, simple trip.
Try again. It seemed that I had circled the department store several times before actually finding something I could try on. Nothing appealed to me. The few articles of clothing I did try on made me look like a matron, and I could hear my mother saying, "Jennifer, why don't you pick something from the catalog and I will order it for you. Everything here looks so poorly made."
Yes, that was my mom. She could pick out a cheap piece of clothing from 20 yards away. Now, when I go to the store, I can hear her voice telling me, "No. Look at the fabric. You wash it once and it will fall apart." These days, when I really need to find an outfit, I say a little prayer and I tell my mom to lead me in the right direction. Usually this results in me walking out of the store without having spent a cent. I suppose this is a good thing. I am saving money, right?
Well, on Saturday mom's voice was in my head and she was telling me nothing I tried on was worth buying. Until I found a simple pair of black dress pants. These met her approval. Finally! I can use the coupon!
I get back into my sweat pants and sneakers and I make my way to the register where I hand my item to the clerk. She takes my credit card and coupon. She does her little magic thing with the bar codes and then starts to tell me, "This coupon can't be used with these pants. See the price? It ends in .98 cents. Whenever an item ends in .98 cents, you can't use this kind of coupon. It actually says it on the back here in little print."
Little print? Who is looking at little print? This sounds like I signed a contract for cell phone service. Lovely. I just overstayed my time here in the mall, using the darn coupon as my carrot, and now you tell me that I have to pay the full price. Arghh!
"That's fine. I will take them anyway," I said as I looked at my watch. I had spent over an hour shopping, far longer than I wanted to be here, and now I have to pay the full price. Go figure.
I left Macy's and I stepped into the mall. Part of me wanted to run straight to my car and forget I had ever made that stop at Macy's. Another part of me wanted to walk to my favorite beauty boutique so I could lather on some sweet smelling Pacifica lotions and forget what I had just spent on the pants. Ahh yes, some Mango Grapefruit Pacifica lotion. I can squirt some from the tester and look at all the pretty perfume bottles.
Instead of seeking refuge in my car, I pushed on and made my way to the last and final stop: Sephora. I walked around, testing the new natural product lines, and then I made my way to the skin products.
A saleswoman approached me and she tried to help me. I was indecisive about making a purchase. She showed me a few products and we started to talk about skin care in this country and in Europe. She talked about how she lived in Europe before she came to this country, but she didn't say where she came from.
You know where I am going with this, right?
Well, I proceeded to ask her what country she was from, and she explained that she was from Italy, but she had grown up in France. Immediately, I started to speak Italian with her, wanting to know where she was from.
"I am from the southern part of Italy." My eyes widened.
"Really? What part?" I thought, "She is probably Sicilian. I never meet anyone from Calabria around here."
"Really?! What city?"
"Lamezia Terme." I didn't quite understand her.
"I don't know if I know this town. Where is it exactly?"
"It's the town where the airport is."
"Madonna! My grandfather is from Curinga!"
"My husband is from Curinga! I am from the same area!"
Can you believe this? I come to the mall to buy some clothing and I meet a woman whose husband is from Curinga. She is from a nearby town. Does it get much better than this?
We continued to talk for a while, a mix of Italian and English. She informed me she would be in Curinga, just one month before me this year. We would just miss seeing each other there.
* * * *
That afternoon I left the mall with a refreshed feeling. It was unlike most other days when leave feeling tired and drained of my energy. Saturday was different, however, all because I had make a Curinga connection. I had met someone from precisely the area that I have been dreaming about for the last year and a half.
I guess the mall isn't so bad after all. And those full priced pants I searched so long and hard for in Macy's? Maybe it wasn't so bad that it took me so long to find them.