There used to be colors here, you know. Beautiful swirls of turquoise and brown, yellow and orange, green and grey and red raspberry, outlined in thick black lines, the loveliest blend of spring and of fall. Some of the colors shaped like leaves, leaves within leaves within leaves, I’m not sure what it was about it that always caught my eye, made me stop and look, even though I walked by it just about every day. It might have been the texture beneath the paint, the pockets of air that leave the concrete pock-marked when it dries, the smoothness and the roughness intermingled together to make the surface something new. It might have been the reprieve it offered me, the beauty of art and the colors in the midst of the city, amongst the homeless and the trash, the cars and the noise.
It was a year before the tagging began, scribbles in oil pastels, paint markers, and Sharpies in unremarkable shades – “fucks” and street names, ugly faces and scowls, just a mess, the bright hues and the beauty written over by the ugly nature of others, piss puddled where the wall met the walk. It was difficult to try to figure out at first, I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand why anyone would do something like that, so destructive and hurtful. I spent too much time trying to figure it out. Was it envy? Was it the lack of explanation, the lack of a why? The questions never stopped. They ran in my head, an unending, fucked-up cycle. It kind of made me crazy for a time.
The tagging and scribbles kept coming, though, the ugly nature of others making more marks, more ugly, covering over the beautiful colors. Until the building owner hired a crew. They worked all day with pressure cleaners and paint remover, a cloud of thick, acrid chemical hovering over the wall and the neighborhood, peeling all of the beauty away until there was little left. Only this, the rust colored remnants that weep down like this, like tears or bloodstains. They tried to get it all. I know. I watched them do it. The colors are long gone now, but I remember what they looked like. Sort of like her and I, you know?
I wept, mourned over both, until the realization washed over me, that the beautiful colors will return one day, as they always do. Another will come along and will see the rust colored remnants weeping down. And they’ll be inspired to paint something new, maybe something more beautiful than the one that was here before.
Isn’t that the way of things?