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Monday, December 13, 2010

Places Lost to Time

Places are very important to me. Having an associative memory system I remember a lot from being in places that those memories are tied to. Because of this I hate changes in the places that I know because it disturbs the way I remember the memories there.

With that being so, on Saturday, I decided to go to mall known Crestwood Plaza. Some of my first memories of Saint Louis happened at that mall. As my parents were house searching in October if 1993 we went to the mall and I was shocked. Yes, we had malls in Indianapolis, but there was something about Crestwood Plaza that I loved. The food court was enormous and the mall itself seemed to stretch forever (I just did a Google Earth measurement; it measures at .33 miles).

The food court was located in the basement right next to the Exhilarma which was, quite possibly, gaming overload for me at the time. This arcade was mammothly big and had everything. I went there for many years until it closed in the early 2000's, but I have one special memory in the arcade. In 1998 the day before I got confirmed at my church, the arcade racing game of Sega Super GT was glitched in a way. Instead of being a 3 lap race it was a 40 lap race! 40 laps for just 50 cents. Good times!

In a way this mall eased the transition from Indy to Saint Louis due to just how awesome that mall was. If this mall was any inkling to the future, the future was going to be bright (note to self in the future: Do not let malls dictate omens of the future).

I don't know why I wanted to go to Crestwood Mall on Saturday. I have read in the South County Times that the mall may be razed and rezoned and that shops are disappearing at an alarming rate, but I had not yet seen this for myself. I may have been reading it for two years now, but it wasn't real because how could the most fantastic mall on Earth suffer such a fate?

It was 5:45PM when I arrived at the mall. In my memories of previous Christmas shopping experiences I can remember parking at an extreme premium. There was no thing as a short walk! Saturday though, well, front row parking was readily available. I began to worry what I would find inside. My worries were well-founded and the following picture is one I took:

This may have been the building I remembered but where were the people? Where were the stores? Instead of a mall it looked like a prison with all the metal gates down on the empty stores. I was horrified.

I'm sure everyone has that place from their childhood that is no longer there be it a corner store or a cinema. Time changes, places change, but the ability to accept this varies in people. I was brought to tears at the emptiness of a place that I have so many memories at.

In a way now my memories are tainted as I will remember the people at the mall, but instead of remembering a lively mall with the typical healthy economy atmosphere I will remember a place that is well out of place. There is no avoiding change and change seems to effect us on the spectrum more so. The thing to remember about this is that it can be changes in places like a mall. I have written about this mall as if it were alive, but in all reality it is just a building that opened in 1967. To me though, as with all places I visit, it is the ties between what is and what was. I have always had a challenge when places close or get torn down because in a way the memories there get closed or torn down too. Sure, the memories are still there, but instead of being memories that are experienced in video form in 3D they sort of get filed into an encyclopedia in my mind that simply states that "memory happened".

What will the future hold for Crestwood Plaza, now known as Crestwood Court? I don't know officially, but from my phone's picture it doesn't look good. I don't know what happened to it, or where the stores went, nor do I care really because the only thing I know is it happened. In a way it feels if all that enthusiasm I felt as an awe-struck 10 year old back in 1993 is gone. The place that helped bridge the move, which was a big deal, is being lost to time. It may not be alive, but it feels as if I have lost a relative that always made me feel at ease.


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