Sometimes it feels like I spent half of my childhood in a mall.
I have three siblings and there was always a reason to go to the mall whether it was because someone needed new clothes for school or because it was free entertainment for us. We usually didn’t have “fun money” but my brother and sisters just liked wandering around the different stores.
When I was in my teens I also spent time at the mall because that was The Thing To Do.
Visits to the women’s section in department stories with my mom was pretty common since I had two sisters. I never really minded because I would admire the clothes and was enchanted by the amazing and beautiful lingerie on mannequins. It was such a different world compared to my own reality. Why DID underwear have to be cotton and white? Why not pink or mesh or lacey? Why did my clothes have to be so boring?
In high school my friends and I would go to the mall and during prom season the girls would shop for dresses. I loved loved loved this but at the same time it was excruciating to see all these stunning gowns. My imagination and daydreams would run wild and it was during these outings I would understand what it meant to have pangs.
According to Dictionary.com this words is defined as:
a sudden feeling of mental or emotional distress or longing: a pang of remorse; a pang of desire.
a sudden, brief, sharp pain or physical sensation; spasm: hunger pangs.
As much as I loved gazing at these dresses of sequins and high slits and plunging necklines and sparkles part of me didn’t want to go to these sections. Seeing these dresses would often depress me. It’s like seeing someone’s vacation photos of a place that you’ll never visit.
When I was younger my imagination also ran wild but in a different way. The mall we visited the most growing up had everything from a bowling alley to a pet store to beauty supply shops. My mom was a hairdresser for years so it wasn’t uncommon for us to tag along with her when she needed to pick up hair dye, curlers, and anything else she needed.
As we went from store to store I would daydream about what it would be like to be locked in the mall overnight. I don’t think imagining this is that unusual, but my imagination played things out differently than most kids my age.
“I would roller skate through the mall if I was locked in there overnight!”
“I would stay up all night playing video games!”
My daydreams were about dressing up. I mean, that hasn’t changed over the last four decades.
Listen. This all sounds very silly but I don’t keep much from you girls. I would imagine being alone, being able to do what I wanted, to look at the dresses in all the stores without glancing over my shoulder. I would go to the beauty supply shop and pick out a wig. I would go to the cosmetic counter and learn makeup. I would select beautiful lingerie, the pinkest dress, the most gorgeous high heels…
Growing up with two sisters allowed opportunities to “borrow” a dress when no one was home. But the mall had a zillion dresses. The mall had a shoe store with aisles and aisles of heels.
A kid in a candy store is nothing compared to a crossdresser in a mall.
These fantasies don’t seem that long ago. They resonate with me because of how often I had these thoughts growing up. These yearnings, these longings were powerful.
This side of me has been with me all of my life. Looking back over the years I imagined I would eventually get this out of my system or outgrow these desires.
Well, no. I suppose a more accurate perspective is that I thought I could deny and repress and ignore who I was. But I couldn’t.
I daydreamed and I window shopped constantly. I still do.