I stared up at the still-dripping paint. The smell of the aerosol can hung heavy in the night sky. Small black spots covered my hand, radiating out from the finger that had pressed the nozzle. As the chemicals from the paint worked their way into my brain, I slowly began to realize what I had just done. At 3:30 AM on a Thursday, I had gotten out of bed, walked across the street, and painted a stop sign black. For absolutely no reason. I’d like to say I had a motive. That, perhaps, I was furious at the world and wanted to see cars smash into each other in the dead of night. Or, maybe I felt that the sign was an intrusion upon my neighbor’s meticulously kept lawn. But neither of these was true. Honestly, nothing drove me but pure and utter boredom. I just couldn’t take the monotony of my life for one more second, and I needed to do something fast. I needed to do something other than eat, sleep, and watch TV. I had to do something that would bump me out of my rut. Something that would make a radical shift in the way I lived. Something had to change. And for whatever reason, the thing that had to change was the sign, and that sign needed to be painted black. Black felt right. It is the color of non-being. It is the color that doesn’t exist. Black itself is the absence of color; so calling it ‘the color black’ is in itself a misnomer. And this ‘lack of color’ took away the essence of whatever it consumed. By painting this stop sign black, I was taking away it’s meaning. No longer could that red shape bring cars to a halt. Now it merely hung there, sad and worthless. In taking away its color, I took away the sign. I looked up at the now dark shape hanging on that ridiculous green post in the ground and felt happiness swell in me. I had done this. Within 5 minutes I had changed the course of the neighborhood I dwelled in. I couldn’t wait to see the reactions of those who lived around me. Would they know it was me who had done this? What were the repercussions? In pondering this I realized that I wanted them to know. I wanted them to know that I had painted this sign. I had dripped black paint on their sidewalks. I had potentially put others in danger. And maybe I did it for power, or attention, or self-worth, but one thing is for sure. When I just couldn’t close my eyes and had to get up, go to my garage, grab a can of spray paint, and erase something from existence: I felt satisfied.
January 4, 2012