They call them ghost malls, I’ve heard. This mall, The Great Asian Mall, seemed well on its way to becoming one. The parking lot looked like a vast unending museum for potholes, most of the markings on parking slots worn away. The mall looked like a giant white whale, faded and beached by time.

Life still held onto this place though, there was a large Asian market, a kitchen supply company, a dollar store, a nail training school and the Dragon Court Restaurant keeping the lights on. Each separated by long hallways and closed smaller shops with paper over windows. 

I walked the mall many times just to try and get a feel for the place. Mostly, it seemed it had become a shopping spot for the growing asian immigrant community in the area. The place had changed hands a number of times, the yellow and red striped flag of South Vietnam flew next to the American flag at the end of the parking lot. I suspected the mall owners were from there.

Many years had passed since I fought through the jungles over there. Now, I made a small living delivering packages with my trusty van. The years were passing by quickly though and I felt them. 

I often made my own lunch, parking somewhere to eat it between deliveries. This parking lot one of my favorite. Since there were no well defined parking spots, people parked their cars as best they could side by side, sometimes with a random pattern that befitted the place.

The lot filled with the sights of those coming and going from the mall. The asian woman with her mother each carrying a small bag of groceries in one hand and a meal from the Dragon Court in the other. The older caucasian man with the remains of his white hair tied in a pony tail who loaded a few groceries in his trunk, I wondered if he had fought in Vietnam too. Another woman with no hair, I suspected might have cancer. The many young families who were tied by outreached hands to keep the young ones safe as they encountered cars and potholes, often with an older relative following. The cars here were not fancy. All showed the miles of serving large families. There was no show here, just hard lives played out where every dollar counted.

Maybe it was my years or the life I traveled, but overtime I became more thankful for just being alive. More in touch with my blessings. I really didn’t know how to talk with God. I was reluctant to even ask for forgiveness or more blessings. Mostly, I found myself just thanking him for the blessings that I had. In the parking lot, I imagined the lives of the people I saw, the struggles they faced and small lives they led. Reasons for me to talk more with my God, because I could ask him to watch over each of them.

David Young