I love perusing graffiti in different cities. This is on a rooftop in Brussels, Belgium. Usually when we stand on the ground, we don’t get to stop and notice what’s around us. What’s beautiful about being on a rooftop is that you feel like you’re standing against the sky; you’re a cloud.
You’re not vulnerable.
And then you see the illicitly drawn scribbles, usually meant for the public view, but today they are for you. Barely legible, and you wonder how many people come up here with spray cans, how they squeeze the cans as if their fingers are anacondas, the cans hissing as the paint creates its venomous impression.
It’s an unspoken art that’s everywhere, its own extensive influence rendering me to think about what messages I can give to the world. How sometimes you don’t even need to hear or know what another person is saying for the message to mean something.
Graffiti makes me think about my relationships, particularly my relationship with my family.
Some of my white friends used to tell me about how amazing their relationship with their parents were. Meanwhile, I felt like my identity was infinitely veiled from them. My white friends were unusually open with their parents about topics like alcohol, tattoos, and sex, taboo subjects that my parents forbade us to speak about. All my dad wanted to talk about was…well, there wasn’t much he wanted to talk about. He told us to study, or he complained about Mom. Or he told us to study, and used to come home pissed off if we weren’t studying when he got home from work. Mom used to warn us to turn off the TV when she heard his car pull in.
In that way, home felt like prison. Much of the time, I felt robotic, which infuriated me. As I started getting older, I started feeling these furious undercurrents swirling inside me. I wanted out.
The days I screamed alone were the moments where I wished I was on this rooftop, spraying my curse words, spraying the stories sewn between my teeth in one word plastered against a random cement wall, for a random passerby to notice it, and appreciate that I finally got it out.