I had an extra tub of sidewalk chalk in my little car. Who doesn’t? I’ve had so many little adventures grabbing chalk and drawing for people who’ll never know who did it. Quick messages, words of encouragement, poetry, and odd notes to perplex those who happen upon them. The outside world is nothing if not surfaces, ones unfortunately left blank and colorless. If I find a bucket of chalk, crayons, or markers marked down, I grab a set.
Yesterday, I went to Dollar General to find cheap mixing bottles for my protein requirement. I bought another tub of chalk and a set of crayons and markers for a couple of bucks. A man was walking across in front of Lucky Luke’s bbq. He said, “Cool pin, man” as he looked at my shirt. I had money in my hand, as well as my Dollar General bags. I was on the way to the laundromat a couple of doors down to get what is commonly known as an “assload” of quarters. It’s one of the habits I’ve acquired living in an apartment without my own washer and dryer. “Do you need anything?” I asked him. I would have given him $10 if he had asked. “Nah, I’m good for today.” I stopped. “Hey, how about a tub of chalk? Draw something interesting, pass the time?” He didn’t hesitate. “Hell yes, I’d love a bucket of chalk. I haven’t touched chalk in years. My nephew and I will burn through this.” I handed him the bucket. I could see a little glimmer of the child he once was flickering on his face.
This morning, on a whim, I took the other bucket out and walked over to my downstairs neighbor. His door was open. His young son was already outside, riding around in circles, waiting impatiently on his dad. I handed the dad the chalk. He smiled. “Thanks!” he said. I almost told him it was for his son, but I’d rather see both of them out there covering the pavement and sidewalk with beautiful colors.
I saw them minutes later, riding toward the trail on Poplar.
No one is bored holding a stick of chalk – unless they wish to be. Blank canvases everywhere, waiting.