The doors open into the air of the food court that tempts me to walk up to Wetzel’s Pretzels and grab a large, salty pretzel with the yellow, creamy cheese sauce or to go to the Surf City Squeeze and get a fruity, sweet, strawberry-pineapple smoothie.
I fight the urge.
I walk past the oily, stomach ache-giving aroma of many food companies competing for the money of the people looking for a quick lunch. Past the screaming children playing on the recently opened play area. Past the exhausted mothers and distressed fathers sitting on the benches, hoping and praying that this will tire out their kids.
I walk past.
I walk past the businessman swiftly walking, phone clamped to one ear, talking rapidly, and a briefcase swinging back and forth from his rapid pace.
Past the stores with enormous sale signs plastered over the windows—almost everything 45% off and Buy one, get one free! Groups of people in every store searching for these deals. Anything to save some money.
Past the large groups of people talking loudly, laughing at jokes they have made.
Past clothing store upon clothing store blasting catchy pop tunes; the beat gets caught in my head. A bird in a cage stuck there until another thing lets it out—sacrificing itself.
Past Lush with its strong aroma floating out of the store making its way to me, giving me an instant headache.
Looking around seeing all this chaos, so many different components clashing, all wanting attention, all trying to get at least a small amount of the spotlight, I make the connection I have always been trying to make. The thoughts start flowing, freeing the pop beat from my mind and replacing it with my own memories.
My family fills my mind.
My three younger siblings running around our small blue house. My brothers Ben and Alex wrestling on the couch. My sister Evelyn running around the house and never staying in one place for more than five minutes—making beaded bracelets and singing songs she has heard on the radio and not understanding the meaning; just proud that she knows one of the same songs I do. My dad making an astounding dinner, going to the living room every few minutes to check the NFL scores. My mom in her room or playing with one of the cats, getting slightly annoyed when one of my brothers hurts the other.
I am also reminded of family get-togethers for holidays or birthdays.
Christmas Eve at Nana’s house on my mom’s side.
All of us squeezed into her small living room. My younger cousins impatiently waiting to open their presents. My aunts catching up with each other. My Grandpa Joe trying to find A Christmas Story on demand. Him and my Great Grandpa Richard bickering a bit. Nana declaring that it is time for the books. Small fabric books are passed out—one is the story of Jesus, the other is classic Christmas songs. We sit in a circle and read through these like we had done since before I could remember.
Now I jump to Christmas morning at my Grandma Judy and Grandpa Tom’s house on my dad’s side.
Grandma Judy smothers us in kisses which my siblings and I wipe off when she’s not looking. Grandpa Tom, with his electric knife, cuts up a ham or turkey. Uncle Dan pokes fun at me, I smile and roll my eyes a little. My cousins Emma and Evelyn show each other their Christmas dresses then go to the living room to play with the new toys Emma has brought with her. My cousin Connor shows Ben and Alex the new toy he has gotten, and in turn, they tell him what they have gotten.
I am comforted by chaos, for it is a part of my everyday life. This is the reason I love the the idea of large cities such as New York City, Paris, and Los Angeles. In all this chaos, there is happiness—everyone is doing their own thing. They are in their own world. But together, it forms a beautiful symphony, each note so different, but they all fit together perfectly.
This is the chaos I love: the clattering of the local mall to the small moments with my very large family.