I don’t know why I’ve been dreaming ’bout the Echelon Mall

Tacos for 79 cents,
squeezable mild sauce ask for extra
Children’s Place, a tunnel with carpet inside
Another at the storefront window
My first walkman
Downstairs at a stereo store in the corner next to Strawbridge’s
Across from Heroes World
but then Heroes World moved
One time I saw a man there with the inside of his ear on the outside
But that was when it was still downstairs
Still cool because it wasn’t cool
Smelly erasers
I stole one and my mom made me give it back say sorry to a lady who didn’t care who probably stole stuff too.

White tiles – big
Black tiles- small
Step on a crack, break my mother’s back by the Clinique counter.
Pantyhose (stockings)
but not my first bra. That was at King of Prussia.
Makes sense.
Sbarros The Gap Randomness up there near JC Penney’s or Sears, the store I never went inside because it was for poor people
Broken glass my dad ate inside a Chinese stir fry at a restaurant that once lived near the top of the escalator that became the Food Court
Bananaberry shakes
Mr. Bulky’s
Giggling at boys
Skater boys
Yummy blonde skater boys named Jon P with bangs hanging over one eye.
Never paid attention to me ’cause my bangs were too crunchy or my nose too big or i wore scrunchy socks or scrunchies or was too Jewish or too rich
even though I never thought I was rich
just had nice clothes and got to go on vacation
and my parents were married still.

Silver City Pink
On my lips before trying to get in to see Down & Out In Beverly Hills and then again to see House which wasn’t so scary with the guy from Greatest American Hero (I know his name because my dad was his lawyer once).
Rated R.
Rocky Horror Picture Show sometime later after the Sophmore Cotillion Josh made me sit on the end and I was scared of the transvestite.
Cookie cake – so many cookie cakes
Sam Goody’s 2 for 99 cents bin
Teeny tiny chicklets in a yellow envelope damp at the top with my saliva
Once we were kicked out for loitering
Me and Dylan and maybe Sondra or Meghan, I don’t remember but what a dumb cop to think good girls knew how to loiter
We weren’t even hiding the Benson & Hedges cigarettes in our pockets that day.
Passing by girls who used to sleep over my house in my double bed with me next to me after softball but now hardly say Hi to me pretend they were never there.
They do
Laughing at a fat kid because Michael P. with his feathered black hair said to and because that’s what you do when you travel in packs
McDonald’s a book store Hallmark that T-shirt place that awesome iron-on T-shirt place where you could choose cute critters or Papagalo’s Pizza or Adam Ant what was it called up there above Woolworth’s where I used to buy tye dye with Rachel so we could make t-shirts and sell them on my street where cars passed by because it was a busy street not a quiet court like hers
One time I got lost
— or was that Jason?
One time my mom hid from me, from us, to teach us a lesson
One time I saw Brian there and he winked at me and I felt pretty and popular and was certain that my life was about to change
One time I dared to go into Spencer’s
One time I got my ears pierced at Piercing Pagoda in front of everybody, why did they do that? in front of everybody?
One time I went back there and it wasn’t there anymore
Not even the piano store where they used to give lessons and play Liberace reminds me of Bubbi and Poppop always because I took organ lessons there for a week or two or maybe a month but not long enough to know how to play the piano or the organ and any instrument that would allow me to make music I so desperately want to make
Not even Structure or Express or anything that smells like Drakkar Noir

Just some of the walls were left
And a Lens Crafters

All gone now
Empty even with the financial planners and the time share sellers and the dermatologists and the RENT THIS SPACE signs
Gone the giggles
Gone the smells of french frying
Gone the pop rock fizzle on your tongue 80s hairspray pink aerosol Aqua Net bangs manes clipped with plastic teeth
Gone the giggles
Gone the girls
Waiting for a ride home
Waiting for my life to change

34 thoughts on “I don’t know why I’ve been dreaming ’bout the Echelon Mall

  1. Shira Taylor Gura says:

    What a memory you have. Just incredible. The only thing I remember from that mall was working there part-time and I can’t even remember the name (Mariann’s?) and passing the Cinnabun counter. Oh, and maybe the Salad Works. Nice to have such memories I bet!

  2. Oh wow I had no idea why this sounded so familiar when I read the title. Only wish I had your vivid memories…but you gave me a blast from the past. I lived in Cherry Hill until my family moved , around 7th grade and know I used to haunt the Echelon mall with friends too, but have not thought about it in years. Great memories….and of course it’s sad most of us aren’t so interested in malls anymore…

    • Jen says:

      Robin — we may have run into each other at The Accessory Place! ;-) I grew up in Cherry Hill, too (first Voorhees, then Cherry Hill.) What a small world! Did you move before Junior High?

      • Too funny. I do think I got my ears pierced at that Piercing place…I remember the day clearly as my father was angry, thinking if I had my ears pierced I’d turn into a princess like most of the neighbors. Thankfully we moved soonafter to preppy-land and I gave up my Jordache jeans. I did move before Junior high–can’t remember the name of the school I attended but lived on Bunker Hill drive, kind of a large neighborhood…

    • Jen says:

      Free association. Seriously. It started with a dream last night and then I decided to do a little free association exercise and this is what came out. I probably could have produced another 8000 words but thought that would be excessive — even for the 80s. Thanks for the comment!

  3. This may be one of my favourite things I’ve read in ages!! Though I didn’t grow up *there* it is all so familiar, so many of the thoughts an experiences and even the Drakkar Noir :) I really love your stream of consciousness!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for this comment — it’s good to hear. I was curious to know how others who don’t know the Echelon Mall in particular would relate. So thank you, SL!

    • Jen says:

      Was it from the top floor near the food court? Because that’s the time I’m thinking about and really think Dylan was involved. ;)

      • Laurie says:

        Of course I don’t remember that but I sure do remember Bananaberry and Gyros and SaladWorks and seeing Paula Abdul there. Love these old memories!

      • Sondra says:

        Yes, it was upstairs near the escalator. Me and someone actually left the mall and walked around outside, and two people stayed in.

  4. I never was a mall rat. There was nothing in it for me, and I rarely had money to buy anything. Too many things to look longingly at and then ride home with the parents. Watching a mall die is an agonizing event though. I’ve seen a couple in my day.

      • The God’s honest truth? I was taught it was rude to stare, and sexual harassment (constructively) to do it to women. That may sound laughable, but as I look at it now years later, that was exactly what was conveyed to me. Now, this could also be coupled with the idea that “pretty girls” thought I was beneath them. I didn’t need to be an adult to know there was no love for me there.

  5. Lori McBeth says:

    What a trip down memory lane! Had one ear pierced at that piercing pagoda, just one because I screamed, ran through the mall like a maniac and completely embarrassed my mom. Ate my share of salad works. Too scared to go into Spencer’s. And I think I was at Rocky Horror with you…they do not make malls like that anymore!

    • Jen says:

      The ear piercing story is vividly hilarious! So glad you shared. And you, of course, were at Rocky Horror. Those were the months we were together double or triple dating every weekend. :)

  6. Marc Grossman says:

    Jen – what about the library, c’mon now?? Seriously, I love reading what you write, you have an incredible knack for it :)

  7. Rona says:

    I have never been to this mall, but it could have been me and my friends at our very own long island Roosevelt field mall

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