I'm not a shopper. This is known. Before yesterday I hadn't even been to a mall in years. There really aren't malls in Chicago, or at least, not away from Michigan Avenue, and even those ones aren't malls in the way that suburban people understand them. Even if there were though, if I have a choice between ordering shit online and having it delivered to my house without interacting with anyone else or going to a shopping mall and having to fend off shop girls trying to "help me", be personable at the cashier's desk and fighting a tide of strangers in the open areas who always seem to be moving en masse in the direction opposite mine, I am always going to chose to stay the fuck home.
Imagine my surprise, then, when we walked into the Westfield mall last night in search of quick and cheap food and I discovered I felt something I haven't felt since I got here - I felt like I was at home. Because while I haven't been to a mall in years, I did grow up in the suburbs, and I got dragged to the mall by parents and friends ALL THE TIME. I understand shopping malls. I know how they work. It felt familiar. It felt American. It felt...right. I found myself eating a quesadilla and wondering when I could go back there and walk around. Not to shop - I really and truly HATE to shop and will do almost anything to get out of it - I just want to go and wander around and, I don't know, just be there.
I'd noticed a similar feeling on the way to Gary Numan the night before, when we'd stopped for food at services (Americans: rest stop) and I'd gone straight over to the KFC. In America, I would never have done any such thing. There's no reason to eat chicken if it's not going to be from Boston Market, and there's not really any reason to get fast food at all that isn't from either Chipotle or Potbelly. KFC is not even on my radar. I couldn't even tell you where to find one. But here, I find myself thinking "I'll go to KFC" because I know exactly what I'm getting into with that decision (by the way Americans, popcorn chicken is ALWAYS on the menu here. It's not a limited time thing. Though this is offset by the fact that there's no honey mustard (a reader commented that I can steal some from Domino's but I haven't tried it yet).). I've probably had KFC about half a dozen times since I've been here. Prior to that, I hadn't eaten there in AT LEAST 10 years.
I don't even know who I am anymore.