On my bus ride downtown, I pass a grocery store with a diptych mural on one wall. I pass it nearly every morning. Sometimes I glance at it, sometimes I really study it, sometimes I don’t notice or think of it — buried in a novel or notebook.
The mural is a 9/11 memorial. On the left is a woman, a beautiful black woman in a flowing white gown and angel wings, palms facing out. A nurturing flight pose, not superhero style. On the right is a black man in uniform, a fallen police officer. He is dignified, someone’s respectable, almost-middle-aged dad.
There are 9/11 memorials all over this city. Many show the towers and say things like “Never Forget” and “Always in our hearts.” They have become part of the landscape, a fixture in a city that is still processing the events of 9½ years ago.
This morning I rode the bus and, as we neared the intersection that gives me a view of the mural, I looked up … only to see that the mural is gone. I looked around to make sure I was in the right spot, then looked back and verified that yes, the mural is gone. The wall has been painted over, first in white and now half in a peach-tinged beige.
Obviously, the building’s owner can do what he or she likes with that wall. Yes. Of course. But that mural … it just never occurred to me that it could be disappeared so easily.
I have no idea who the people in the mural were, no idea what their relationship to the artist was … or to the person who originally approved that wall for their memorial. To me they have always been anonymous, two of many, many victims. But they had become part of my day to day, part of my landscape, remembered because of their regular presence in my morning. And now, just as suddenly, they are gone.
To see the rest of today’s slices, head over to Two Writing Teachers.