Fifteen Minute Friday: Graffiti
Fifteen Minute Fridays are stories based on writing prompts that I penned in the 15 minutes afforded to me at my weekly writer’s group. They are unedited (except spelling) and are based on one word. The fifteen minutes includes thinking about your idea, writing it down, and a quick edit if you have time. If you would like to play along, get your pen an paper ready.
This week’s prompt… Graffiti. You have 15 minutes–go!
Flashes of Light
What is beautiful and what is ugly? I ask myself this as I cross the city to meet some friends for coffee. The subway snakes underground within the dark walls of the metropolitan tunnel. Heads are bowed in sleep or reading or bathed in the glow of a phone looking back at them with fresh excitement. The interior of the subway car is awash with advertisements for school programmes, dating services, and emergency phone numbers. Line drawings depicting subway riders are behind real live subway riders with no irony. Flashing lights and dotted maps blink out the future of our journey.
When the sun filters in the windows that had previously shown only a concrete wall, it is bright and welcome. The phones begin buzzing and sunglasses appear on faces instead of on heads. The surroundings become the new art. Sky, buildings, and sunshine are the new advertisements describing what we are missing and what we are planning to enjoy when the brakes squeal at our final destination.
The graffiti that colours the buildings could be viewed as ugly. It represents a blatant disregard for property and nighttime misuse of spray paint. But it isn’t that to me. I had the good fortune to speak to some graffiti artists in Graffiti Alley one day and realized the art form that others view as garbage is really just another way to express feelings, ideas, creativity, and community. There is beauty. There is art.
The tunnel swallows our light again and I am left with the advertisements and the dozens of people sharing a space with me but operating in a silo. The ugly of the subway is not in the graffiti that adorns the buildings along the way, but rather when there is none at all.
When we are done our 15-minute writing exercise, we share our stories with everyone in the room. If you played along, please share. If you read my words, please be kind.