My fellow citizens of shopping

I’ve come for socks and I am leaving with a glass vase that I don’t need. The clerk dispenses my change like a backhoe grapple. A coin falls to the counter. It is flu season and I have not washed my hands since leaving the subway. The Persian woman is careless: her delicate fingers touch a man’s lips. She is tender. They will leave the mall and later they will have sex as I am wondering where to put my vase.

It is bright and loud. Everyone is young and beautiful and everything smells of eau de toilette. The Nordstrom greeter is happy to see us. His tan cashmere jacket hugs the shoulders when he points. My back aches but there is nowhere to sit. Everything is in motion, endlessly. I feel almost as though I’m breaking the rules as I lean on polished marble, note the passers-by, my fellow citizens of shopping.

Some of us have come here to escape bad weather so that we might malinger a while in a world free of dirt, conflict, trouble, unpleasantry. The music is imminent and unobtrusive, upbeat but with a thoughtful agnosticism about the substance of joy. Perhaps it is a cable-knit sweater, or a Pokemon lanyard, or a leather bag, or pumps. Tomorrow, perhaps something else. A woman asks, Can I help you with anything? and I say No, I’m fine.

From the fern-fringed atrium I see the dull tobacco smoke haze of the sky. The marble balusters are the shimmering white of Photoshopped teeth. My senses are dulled but also tantalized by the abundance of this vital mausoleum—precision watches that would fit nicely on my feminine wrist, shops fragrant of leather, the pulse and swell of synthesizers, headless women in lace polyamide g-strings.

This is a community governed by a singularity of purpose. We know and accept the premise. In reward for our assent are the urinals that smell of just-cut tangerines, the forever burnished surfaces. We understand that eventually we must return to the underlit flats where we will recollect our predicates, alone among ourselves and our provisions.

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