I did a long road trip in college with a caravan of cars that would race one another to the next tollbooth. Whoever got there first won that leg, but had to pay for the rest of the cars in the group. Granted college was some time ago, but if memory serves, I won pretty much every leg. It wasn’t until we arrived at our destination and much of my beer money had been spent on tolls that I questioned if I had really won or lost.
I’m not sure if it’s human nature, the increased occurrence of natural disasters or just plain Oprah Winfrey that has encouraged us to pay it forward more and more, but I do think it’s happening. What I love even more is how creative and thrifty people are getting in doing so.
As embarrassing as this is, Melrose Avenue has been a saving grace for me here in Los Angeles. I’m not talking about the Diane Von Furstenberg/Alexander McQueen/Melrose Place part of it. I mean the grungy, cheap boutiques whose businesses typically last less time than the trends they advertise in their store windows. I love them.
Walking up and down Melrose got me the small amount of exercise I could handle during two pregnancies, and later was the perfect lullaby for my babies. It was the best stop for an overpriced brunch or last minute gift for a co-worker (ie myself). It was an outlet for me, piercing parlors and all.
I’ll never forget one afternoon that I headed out for a walk in a bad mood over something so inconsequential that I no longer remember what it was, but then found this.
I have shared the photo here before, but it is still on my mind. It was one of those moments where I stopped still in my tracks. I have no idea how I must have looked to the people-watchers nearby, who likely thought I was a good Samaritan picking up litter, or didn’t care to notice. Honestly, I wish I had shared the experience with each and everyone around me in that moment. I recognize that it could have been them that picked it up just as easily as me- but it wasn’t. To them, it was garbage, as the footprints clearly demonstrate. To me, it was treasure.
I have no idea who printed this message, or who placed it on the street. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter with a small hope of finding its author, with no success.
I realize now, though, that my responsibility isn’t to find or thank the person who created this message, but to keep it going. I hope you will do the same.