There is a romanticism of ignorance. We generate impressions of love where none exists. A phrase painted on a rock cut gives birth to a lifetime of dreams.
The words have been there as long as I can remember. “The Kid Loves Pook” in white letters on a wall of basalt as route 9w climbs up to the top of the Palisades that overlook the Hudson River.
I boarded the 6:10 am bus out of Nyack to the George Washington Bridge every morning, five days a week, from 1969 to 1971. The bus ride took nearly an hour and I always felt sick from diesel fumes and the rocking motion on abused shock absorbers. I planted my face against the cool glass and watched the scenery. The bus ground through its gears up the hill towards the Lamont Geophysical Laboratories and, on the right, written in large white letters, was “The Kid Loves Pook”. Under the words was a heart shaped glyph made from initials. I thought it was the perfect title for a short story, but I stopped writing soon afterwards.
As the years passed, I seldom passed that way. New York was easier to get to on speeding highways than on tired old roads. Every few years I passed the declaration of love and once I noticed that someone refreshed the paint. It has been ten years at least since I have passed that place.
Then, I dreamed that I was on the bus and looked out the window, and I saw a man standing near the rock wall, reading “The Kid Loves Pook”.
Sunday, I drove my truck down route 9W and slowed down as the road cut through the hard rock of the Palisades. The old words were gone, but as I went by, I saw a trace of flaking white paint on the stone.
“The Kid Loves Pook” still could be read in faded letters. I took some pictures. The glyph was gone and I don’t remember what it looked like other than a complicated heart made of superimposed characters. The flat stretch of wall that the unnamed lover chose for his advertisement is crumbling away. Nearby, there is a sign warning of a road widening project. In a few months all trace of the old words will be gone.
Who was the Kid? I know he was in love and chose to declare it to the world in a code only one person would ever recognize. Pook was his secret pet name for her. Their love lived many years because the words were refreshed regularly up until a few years ago.
The kid was young and smart and creative. He coded his message so only Pook knew who the Kid was, and only the Kid knew who Pook was. They passed by those words many times and smiled at each other.
What happened to them?
I wish that I knew.
Did they grow old together?
Was theirs a forbidden love that kept them apart?
Was their love tragic and it was a lonely and lost soul that painted those words?
Why have the words gone unpainted these last few years?
Has the Kid died or moved away?
Have they fallen out of love?
I wish that I knew.
The approach to the old words. You can see the construction sign in the distance.
There it is, faded but still visible.
A little closer. The wall is crumbling away.
All that remains of the heart glyph.