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We are heading back to NYC for this one.
On a warm Friday evening, Caroline and I hit the West Village. Sex and the City – eat your heart out. I didn’t have my laptop with me at that point. I should have done – I could have pretended to be Carrie. I want to be Carrie (but with a bit of the other three thrown in too, of course!). We even went to the Magnolia Bakery featured in the show, but we picked the wrong time to visit. We had just devoured a scrumptious dinner. There was no way we would have room for cupcakes.
Yet another excuse to go back then!
It didn’t surprise me to find out that this area was the home of many a celeb. The place just oozes ‘cool’. Far more ‘cool’ than I could ever possess. Luckily having an English accent is all that I can distract folk out there with! It’s all I will ever have in the this village of utopia. We were close to where the wonderful cafe, Tea and Sympathy, can be found! The cafe where I met lovely Max from Project Inspire. We must have chatted for 15 minutes tops, therefore, it’s absolutely amazing that Caroline (on her drama school adventure) has met up with him twice whilst out there!
We wandered past a Hair Salon, Contesta Rock Hair. The kind of salon that looks so good, you daren’t stare in for too long, just in case someone looks out and notices your wonky fringe. Ahem. It may be contemporary and stylish inside, but it was the outside that I was immediately drawn to. A black chalkboard hangs on the wall with ‘Before I die’ written along the top. “I want to…..” is repeated on the board, with coloured chalk in a plastic bag on the side. So simple. So effective. So exciting.
Who knew that a wall could be so inspirational? Who is behind this?
“It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. After I lost someone I loved very much, I thought about death a lot. This helped clarify my life, the people I want to be with, and the things I want to do, but I struggled to maintain perspective. I wondered if other people felt the same way. So with help from old and new friends, I painted the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.
It was an experiment and I didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was bursting with handwritten responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, eat a salad with an alien, see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, straddle the International Date Line, be completely myself… People’s responses made me laugh out loud and they made me tear up. They consoled me during my toughest times. I understood my neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded me that I’m not alone as I try to make sense of my life.”
Wow. Now you can see why I like it so much. I can’t believe I stumbled across this. I was very lucky as it was only installed in the month of my visit! I feel such a connection with this project. A project born from the pain of loss and one hoping to encourage others to think.
Some of the comments that I read on this West Village wall:
BEFORE I DIE I WANT TO……….
- Travel the world
- I want to live on the beach in a cottage
- Fall in love
- Meet Katy Perry
- I want to have all the Lego in the world
- Divorce my husband
- Go the Moon
- Leave NYC
- Live in NYC
- Make a baby
I wrote something on there. I had to. I don’t want to say it out loud. I feel it’s a little like when you blow out candles and make a wish. I don’t want to jinx it, because I’d really like it to happen. What would you write on that wall? Is there something that you have always wanted to achieve, to do or to see?
There are now over 200 Before I Die walls around the globe. I was glad to discover that 11 places in the UK are involved.
Hang on a minute. Surely one of those is in London? NOPE.
The only information that I can find is this statement on the Wall’s site:
“In January of 2012, a Before I Die wall was created in the Royal Festival Hall of London’s Southbank Centre. The installation was part of the Centre’s “Festival of the Living”. This wall was born and died in January 2012.”
I’m not sure about you, but I think it is about time that we brought this back to London. I don’t think I will be able to rest this year until I have made this happen somehow. I am happy to pay for the Wall pack myself. I am happy to bribe, pay or persuade people to help me put it in place. The tricky bit is the location. Team 60 Postcards – if you have any brainwaves or know anyone that you think could help, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider this a mid-year resolution.
Before I go to sleep…………I would like a cuppa!
Night all xx
(Written on my new MacBook Air – Best. Thing. Ever.)
Letters from the kids:
Muchos Gracias Isaac! Ah, now that’s why you didn’t find one! Thank you for wishing me luck. I appreciate it! I still have responses to talk about :). You never know when you will hear from people! Rachael :). Ps you share the same name as my Godson!