When I was a teenager I carved my initials, and the initials of my then girlfriend, into a tree that stood alone in a field of long grass that hid the iniquities of our youthful years. At the time it felt like I was marking our love, such that it was, in a place that would forever stand as a testament to the notions of my young heart.
Years later I returned, alone, to that tree. I searched the bark for our initials, but they were nowhere to be seen. The mark I had made had been swallowed up by the passing of time and had entirely faded in much the same way as our young love had those years before. If the tree had a memory it was keeping its secrets, and as I stood there surveying the once familiar landscape, I thought that maybe the tree knew best.
On a wall in my neighborhood, there’s a hopeful message that reminds me a little of that old tree that didn’t hold me to any promises I might have made in the long grass under its shade. Painted in colorful graffiti someone is asking for forever, making a pledge that only the foolishness of love could ever make.
“Pia, Will you marry me?” It’s a question that has been on that wall for about three years, and as the paint begins to flake I’m surely not the only person who has wondered if she said yes.
The piece has been allowed to fade and flake over time, but it is relatively untouched by taggers or vandals, almost as if out of respect for the answer we’re waiting for. I’ve thought many times that if she had said no, then surely the question would have been whitewashed, covered like a wound waiting for time to do what it always does.
So today I knocked on the door of the building that continues to pose the question. I thought that while it might be nosey, anyone who makes such a public gesture must surely realize that the public might be interested in the outcome.
A girl answered the door, not Pia, and no she couldn’t introduce me to the man behind the proposal because he moved out a long time ago. He used to live there with a bunch of his friends. He chose that spot for his proposal to Pia, his then girlfriend, because that was where the couple shared their first kiss. It’s an unremarkable location for sure, but to at least one person it was significant, worthy of a personal landmark and a declaration, more serious but not entirely unlike carving initials onto the trunk of an old tree perhaps? Love can make fools of us all, or so we hope.
Pia said yes. Since then the couple has married, moved to the outer suburbs to start a family, and are now raising their two children.
Stand at this location using Google street view.