When people ask why it is that we are so passionate about CAFC, I always think of a memory that I have from childhood. It was summer, and the sidewalks around the block from my house were being redone. I wanted nothing more than to leave my handprint in the wet cement. It became my mission for the day. My first mission was actually to pick up a pack of Lucky Lights from the candy store, but the handprint was next on the list. I had priorities and a seriously unhealthy addiction to candy cigarettes.
In order to complete this mission, I would have to sneak around and avoid being busted by the construction workers. I had my eyes on the freshly poured square at the corner, and they were working a few doors down. I don’t think I would have considered it vandalism at this age, but I did know that I shouldn’t be doing it. I knew I had to move fast, there was only a small window of time before it would be too late.
The bike ride home was spent chain smoking, while nervously constructing a plan. Of course I was that one kid who actually pretended to smoke candy cigarettes. I took my habit very seriously; I pretty much was Joe Camel, except way more awesome- if you can imagine that. My dad would even light them for me, just to take it to the next level. He was the “cool dad” that everyone wished they had. Look up the definition of punk rock in the dictionary, and you will find his picture. He taught me and my brother everything we know about being cool.
He was the person who showed us how to “flip the bird” at the ripe age of seven. Before then, I thought it meant to give the thumbs up. (He would later come to regret this decision; my brother let that bird fly everywhere). He taught us never to attend a concert wearing the bands t-shirt, because that shit is dorky. I don’t know where I’d be without him, probably giving some jerk the thumbs up in traffic. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.
The plan was to make it look like an accident, a staged fall as I rode past the workers on my bike. In my nine year old mind, it was flawless. Because really… how could a group of grown men get mad at a poor little girl who fell off her bike? I envisioned it as some sort of bail, tuck, and roll type situation. With no previous education in stunt falls, I assumed all possible risks and remained adamant.
*I can usually attribute nearly every reckless idea that I ever had as a child, to the Home Alone movies, but not this one. On this day, I acted alone. Because Kevin didn’t know shit about stunt falls.
I rolled up to the scene going fast- too fast. I turned my head and noticed the workers looking in my direction. I went for it anyway. A slick ghost rider move was attempted, but was unsuccessful. I panicked and hit the brakes at the very last second. The dismount was sloppy, but I managed to land right on target. To my surprise, the concrete wasn’t as soft as it looked. I must have spent too much time at the candy store. This made it very hard to complete my mission, but I didn’t let that stop me. I pushed harder, determined to finish what I came there to do. I wasn’t leaving until I left my mark.
(This is probably the part where the workers realized that my bullshit fall was absolutely NOT an accident).
Suffering only skinned palms, my handprint was IN the cement. There was no time for celebration, not now anyway. Suddenly, I noticed the workers were much more upset than I had anticipated. Turns out, grown men absolutely can get mad at a child for falling off a bike, if it happens to be onto a freshly leveled sidewalk. They were yelling things and I don’t know what they were, but I’d be willing to bet it wasn't “are you okay?” I climbed back on that bike and peddled as fast as my legs would let me, with the biggest, shittiest grin on my face. With a lucky between my lips, I disappeared into the sunset. It was a good day.
However insignificant the handprint may have actually been, it was a big deal to me. In my mind, it was a land mark. I would walk everyone I knew to that corner. I would put my hand over it and say “this is MY hand.” Nobody seemed to think it was a great as I did. They had more important things on their minds. They had Tamagotchi’s to feed. To me, there was something incredible about leaving something behind, perhaps more permanent than myself. My handprint would be on that sidewalk for what I thought would be forever.
These days, I can’t help but see this whole place as freshly poured cement. Every single second is an opportunity to make a move, to leave behind something great- something so much bigger than ourselves. This is about falling on purpose, even when we know, they’re all watching. Because maybe what some consider good the way it is, isn’t quite good enough. Maybe it won’t be good enough, until we’re all willing to get our hands dirty. This is about proving that we are here, and that we deserve to be. And some day, when this fight for equality is over… when the battle has been won- we will all come back here and say, “these are our hand prints.”
Closets Are for Clothes, and great stories don’t start from perfect sidewalks.