Walked down the street on the way to work recently & came upon a haunting illustration at the rear of an abandoned restaurant slated for teardown. Felt intrigued by the bittersweet mix of symbols & metaphors. What’s the story behind a mystery as old as time when the first dawning of love went awry?
The morning was a pleasant and sunny one on Saturday the 24th of June. I had already dismounted from the #62 bus and due to light traffic had arrived “too early.” My job in outdoor adventure retail was about 7/10th’s of a mile away. Just over a kilometer. Morning sunshine spilled between the leafy tree canopies of Denny Park as people prepared to set up for the South Lake Union Saturday Market. This is the Emerald City’s oldest park and the last surviving mini-forest in an area undergoing massive destruction and construction. Apparently the park was also once a cemetery.
I walked due east down the south side of Denny Way. Wanted to walk in the delicious combination of cool summer air and warm sunshine. Approached a disconcerting image rapidly sliding out of view as I progressed further down the hill. As there was plenty of time before I had to be on the job, I stopped and stepped over a short barrier to better discern what appeared to be graffiti. Tucked away in the corner behind the shut-down lounge & restaurant was this sad yet intriguing image. What happened? I don’t know, but I was reminded of my own divorces and of the pain of my heart breaking apart.
What do those numbers and words scribbled on the door above the locks and doorknob mean? They spelled out, “2000 empathy.” What was the context?
Were they even meant to be connected? Or were they two separate phrases? I couldn’t make out the illegible squiggles of what may have been a middle phrase or word since crossed out.
Took a few pictures with the camera on my fone. Then clambered back out onto the sidewalk & kept walking. Stopped in Whole Foods Grocery, recently bought out by Jeff Bezos & Amazon, and purchased a cold, blended juice to guzzle. Enhance my breakfast, y’know. Sat out on the new Whole Foods patio there at the intersection of Denny and Westlake and pondered my own marriages, divorces, and heartbreaks. Wondered who was the artist and what was he or she like? Was the artist also homeless? Used to work there? A musician? A prankster?
The image reminded me of “No Woman, No Cry,” the Jamaican reggae song by Bob Marley & the Wailers from the mid-1970s. Reminded me, too, one of the world’s oldest recovered piece of literature is The Love Song of Shu-Sin, a romantic and erotic love poem from a Sumerian king to his goddess-bride. It’s the oldest known poem, too. Ahhh, love gone amok and then awry amidst heartbreak and death. One faces the sunset all alone in the desert wind. Elvis’s “high, lonesome feeling” masks over the loneliness of love for those abandoned to sit alone amidst barren mountains. Perhaps the artist’s wife died of cancer. Maybe she left the artist for another person. I don’t know, I just don’t know, but this work of alley art evoked powerful feelings in me. Damn, “Lost My Wife” haunted me for days afterwards. Such a powerful and impressionistic illustration! Yeah, it haunted me for days.
The Sun kept shining as temperatures climbed up thru the 80s to crest at 96 degrees Fahrenheit upon the following day. That’s about 35.6 degrees Celsius. Proved to be a record for Seattle in June.
William Dudley Bass
29 June 2017
Seattle, Washington; USA
Note: I posted the first foto above to my Facebook page yesterday at 11:16 in the morning. By 9:10 the following morning the image had elicited 26 responses, not bad for someone who seldom posts anything to socmed anymore.
Copyright © 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.