Last week I had a doctor’s appointment at the 100 Oaks shopping center which is now mostly owned by the Vanderbilt Medical Center, but also has a few stores. Going there always brings back memories of when it was a shopping mall, the second one in Nashville, in fact. The front lobby where people now sit and hand out stickers that say “Visitor” used to have a fountain with copper lily pads and cattails. It’s long gone but the escalators are still there, and I still prefer to take the stairway that’s between them. At least one thing hasn’t changed: almost everything is on the second floor.
It seemed like a trip to 100 Oaks Mall every Friday night was a regular part of my life when I was four, before we moved to a different part of town, closer to Harding Mall, also now gone. These trips never seemed to have any purpose beyond just walking from one end of the mall to the other. Maybe my parents just wanted to get out of the house for a while, or maybe, because it was such a new experience for me, it’s been magnified. Maybe we only went a few times and I just never noticed that they were always legitimate shopping trips because of the mannequins.
I remember being fascinated and also more than a little spooked by mannequins. The ones with heads were unnerving enough with their thousand-yard stares and fixed smiles, but the headless ones that still had tall angled necks were even more frightening.
I remember going back there several times over the years, seeing the stores change, although the fountain with the copper lily pads and cattails was always there. At some point they turned off the water and let it dry up but it was still pretty.
The year before the mall closed I went to see my high school band march in with Santa.
I’m not sure why I felt such a rush of nostalgia on this particular trip to 100 Oaks. I’ve had doctor’s appointments there before, although the last one was in 2015. And this one was a little different because it was in the very back; I had to travel almost the entire mall to get to it and that made me think about how much the space has changed, and how much the world has changed.