I can still trace the path in my vision, I've biked and driven it so many times. Up Nottingham, the crossways cut across Washington Boulevard, over the I-66 bridge, up the long hill, across Wilson Boulevard, cut through the little road behind the Willston strip mall, right turn across 50 into the mall access road. Two miles or so from mom's house.
It's changed over the years; when I was small, it was a bit old fashioned but upscale mall, the first enclosed mall in the DC suburbs. There was a slow decline through the years as the Saks went out of business and the Woodies teetered, shops vanishing and being replaced by downscale equivalents. What looked like a final plunge into dollar stores and decay was arrested by the drastic surgery of turning it inside out, the store spaces being extended into the inner corridor and doors cut into the outside walls. All the old stores were swept away and Best Buy, Borders, and Home Depot came in. I'd have mourned the loss of its uniqueness to Yet Another Set of Box Stores, except that it had been so clearly dying.
I've stood in that parking lot in the dark of a fall evening. Stood there under the orange glow of the lights, putting packages into my car.
I would have been even more freaked, except that in a triumph of good timing, I had called my mom tonight, right before she went to bed. So I knew she hadn't run out to do a bit of late night shopping.