He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
I saw this green smiley face on the old Osler Building in Oklahoma City’s Midtown District last night. For the most part, I’ve stopped photographing graffiti. My interest waned and my camera’s on the blink, so it’s a matter of priorities, I guess. It still fascinates me, though. It’s always such a mystery. How did the vandal get into the building or scale the wall? Who didn’t lock the door or the window? Why go to all that trouble and only leave a silly happy face? Why mess up that beautiful brick now that it’s being remodeled?
When I was a single mom, I left my house on 57th Street and moved to the Garage Loft Apartments. They’re located in Midtown. It was pretty stupid on my part — moving there. I was bringing home about $2,200 a month at the time and my rent was $825. Juliette’s tuition at Villa Teresa was $450 and I was getting $160 a month in child support. So, you can do the math. I was so completely broke it wasn’t even funny. But, we had a cool apartment and we were safe.
I went through so many nightmares on 57th Street anything would have been an improvement. It’s a memoir in my mind and if you could read it — if I could write it — we’d all wonder how in the hell I survived. I was walking wounded for several years, but, I hid it well. I would go through these terrible events — you have no idea. I am hiding them, still. But, every morning, no matter what, I would get up and put on my little suits on and go to work. I’d put on my makeup and do my hair and put on a smiley face. There was blood in the water all around me, so I had to pretend everything was OK so the sharks wouldn’t circle and eat Juliette and me alive.
I’d go to lunch with friends and coworkers and I’d stare at them across my salad while they chatted about shopping or kids or work and I’d be completely stunned. Not by the secrets I was keeping, but by the secrets we all keep all the time.
And, now sometimes, when I have lunch with friends I wonder if something terrible happened to them the night before. And I know why they can’t tell me. It’s like when you share your bad stories you give them more life. You infuse them with the energy and power of another person’s memory. It’s not worth whatever burdens are lifted in disclosure because new ones are created through knowing.
And, besides, only God has time for broken people.
All of this was 12, maybe 13 years ago, now. In 2010, or maybe it was 2011, I was driving through the Paseo and I saw this graffiti. That’s when I started photographing it as a hobby. Something simple like Everything Will Be OK, can mean so much. When I saw this I had no sense that it was intended for me, literally or spiritually. By then, things in my life were OK. Pretty much. But, I knew it was intended for somebody, which is why it sucked when the next day it was all painted over. I hope the person who needed to hear the message saw it.
Moving to Midtown in 2001 was a lonely proposition. Most of the people who lived in the Garage Loft Apartments were pretty eccentric. I only stayed a year. These were the final months before Automobile Alley lit up with new neon. Before 1492 and Beatnix; before Coffee Slingers and renovations to Plaza Court. I’d take Juliette for rides on her bike, and I was still afraid, even in broad daylight, because there was absolutely nobody around.
I pushed through all the hard times, though, because I knew what I wanted and I would have it no matter what. I wanted to remarry and have more children and make Juliette part of a family that was bigger than just me. And, one night at an art opening for work I met Robert. We married less than a year later. And, every day, it’s all such a miracle for me, still. Juliette is nearly grown, and Sullivan and Bridgette are in 1st and 2nd grade.
Things happen fast because life is so short. And, half the battle in getting what you want is just knowing what it is.