There is a park near the house I grew up in with a bridge that passes underneath Mount Pleasant Rd. When I was an angst-ridden teenager, I would go for walks through the park to clear my head, pumping adrenaline-rush inducing rock music in my ears. On my walk I would pass under the bridge and gaze up at the roosting pigeons and attempt to avoid the dripping water that consistently rained down gently from the street above. I habitually noted the scenery as I passed under that bridge. One year in high school I attempted an artistic photograph of the series of arches that made up the bridge. I liked how the afternoon sun shone in and bounced off the pale concrete walls and cast dark shadows across the mulch covered earth.
The first time I really saw graffiti was here at this bridge. It was several years ago. Though after my days of high school angst, I was walking again through the park, hoping to shut out the world and occupy my head. With music pumping in my ears through my ipod, my eyes saw very little, mind lost in thought. When I came to the bridge that passes under Mount Pleasant Rd., however, I suddenly became more aware of my surroundings and their vibrancy – the pale concrete arches of the bridge were painted with bright spray-paint. I can no longer remember the extent of graffiti, but I do remember a particular piece spread across the furthest wall under the bridge that captivated me. Filled in with yellow spray-paint, the words sprawled and jagged in a way that was just barely legible – in an energetic yet controlled and calculated fashion: an arrow pierced through the middle of an O (or an apple or a C).
I stood in front of the piece for minutes, my heart beating harder in my chest, my pupils dilated in curious excitement. “Who did this?” I thought in marvel. I felt a shift in my perception of this place. Once it had seemed inconsequential, a vaguely beautiful structure that hardly captured the attention of passersby. Now it was a place of human activity. Someone had occupied this space for longer than a passing moment and created in this spot. I was connected to this mysterious other person in our mutual experience of the space and connected with all those who would pass this space again. The graffiti marked our existence in this place by charging us as witnesses.