No advocate of vandalism, I should come clean. As a second grader, I contributed a graffiti statement, leaving my tag on a bathroom stall. I never told anyone, possibly because of my dichotomy of emotions: I was proud of what I wrote, but ashamed of how I did it.
Flashback to 1969, a fierce era in our country: fighting in Vietnam, activating civil rights and advancing the women’s movement, to name a few. While only a seven-year-old at the time, I was aware, thanks to Walter Cronkite, of current events and social climate. A question that I now often ask myself surfaced in my childhood head: What can I do to make things better?
At Holly Hill Elementary, class bathroom breaks were taken after recess and lunch. First and second grade boys shared a restroom with the more advanced fourth graders, whose classrooms were further down the school’s hall. Perhaps because I was pee-shy, I used the stall instead of joining most of the others at the long latrine positioned barely two feet from the floor. During one visit to the enclosed compartment, I noticed alarming four-letter words, obviously vocabulary of the older boys, etched on the green metal divider wall. I’d heard the salty words before from grown-ups and junior high kids, but had never seen them displayed in such a public manner.
As a child, I didn’t like what I read, but, was also intrigued. Was this form of communication acceptable at school? I knew it wasn’t, but that didn’t stop me from scrawling my own mark. I took the latch from my belt buckle and quickly added my own four-letter word.
The word was LOVE.
Love and light,