Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Weird, or Ready for Anything?

I am intrigued by the story about the guy(s) who lived in a mall. If you haven’t already seen it on the news, you can go to their website here. Apparently he is an artist and he watched the mall being built. He noticed an area that was used as storage during construction but was left vacant once the mall opened. At some point he and friends endeavoured to live there. They had furniture and rudimentary cooking equipment, everything but a bathroom so they just used the public ones. They did this for four years. Four years!

I love this story for two reasons. First, I love the idea that in this day of total surveillance, you can still pull something like this off. Just the thought that they did it for four years is mind-blowingly hysterical and perhaps the best prank-as-art-form ever.

The other reason I love this story is that it totally feeds into my life-long fantasy world. When I read “Where the Heart Is”, about a girl living in Walmart, it just formalized something I had been doing for years in my head.

Call it an over-active imagination but I have always looked for places to live or hide, ever since I was a kid. Places where if I suddenly found myself homeless or on the run, I could seek shelter. I had a normal, happy, well-fed childhood so it isn’t like I needed this information. It’s just a weird secret thing I do. Some people redecorate rooms or makeover people in their mind, I mentally set up a bunker.

Maybe it started when I read The Borrowers as a kid, I don’t know. But even now, as I live the American Dream in my four bedroom, two bath 3000 square foot mortgage with a husband and two kids, I still find myself eying up that little nook in the fancy schmancy furniture store or that empty storage room in the basement of a ginormous model home, and wondering if anyone really checks the whole place before they punch out. I take walks in the woods and see secret places where we could build a cabin, and I have mentally debated the merits of taking out or leaving in the third seat of the van should we ever need to live in it on a cross-country road trip. I know my yard sale habit isn’t just about bargain hunting and saving the earth, it is also kind of thrilling to see what you can get for virtually nothing, should I ever have the need to start procuring say, a camping stove, a solar radio or a bed I can roll up and carry on my back.

You would think having two kids would have halted my flee-strategy sessions. If anything they have only made them more dramatic. Now I factor in whether I could deal with home-schooling by candlelight or would we wing it and let them learn by life experiences and flash cards? Live in a hut on the beach, or in a cabin in the Appalachians? Perhaps in the furniture department of a Neiman Marcus, or in a vacant vacation home at the shore? Am I the only one who watched The Riches and thought seriously about how I would have pulled it off?

Hey, it breaks up the commute in the mini-van and my search for the perfect shower curtain.


JMC said...

This is funny because I do this AND a kind of variation on the theme. First of all, the living in public places undetected: My desire to do this started when I read, "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." And I always wonder about it whenever I'm in a store with really neat stuff, or a museum. Even an amusement park. Can you imagine living at Disney World?

My variation on the theme: I always notice what stores leave stuff out overnight or just outside and unattended during the day, in case I suddenly find myself broke, homeless and in need of anything.

Particularly food. When I was a kid, I used to wonder why homeless people stayed in cities, rather than finding some hidden place in the suburbs near one of these grocery stores that left their food outside.

BetteJo said...

The borrowers - omg one of my very favorite books ever as a kid! Another that might inspire that kind of imagination was My Side of the Mountain. Kid living in a tree - like a hollowed out Sequoia or something. Awesome.

That 'bunker' mentality didn't follow me into adulthood, much, but as I kid I can totally relate!

sherry said...

And to think, I've BEEN to that mall a THOUSAND times, and never saw anything out of the ordinary. But, granted, the place is HUGE, and we all know what Nordstrom does to a girl like me...

Sharpie said...

WOW - I can honestly say I have never done that. I think it is my pack-rat issues - as you can NOT be a pack-rat and live in a nook. Or maybe its because I am stagnant and stuck in my ways and any place other then MY house is completely unacceptable. Ok, I have issues, too.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I want to live at the mall.

Except, parking might suck.

Leanne said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I think I'd like to live at the mall too.

Also, if you ever find the perfect shower curtain let me know. I'll take two.