It seems that someone in Central Square has made an important discovery:
A portal to another dimension (or maybe just a musty basement) has been found and revealed, by just three simple words scribbled in chalk on a building’s vent panel.
Now, even though I know that this is not a secret door, when I passed this spot I had to stop for a moment and wonder what was on the other side. Is it a dungeon, underground lair, or a portal to a fantasy landscape, where untold adventures await? More importantly, I wondered who discovered the secret, and was willing to share it with everyone who passed.
The humble sidewalk chalk is often called upon to transform our everyday places into somewhere special. Picture that staple of summertime outdoor play, hopscotch. A rainbow of colored chalk is brought out to the sidewalk, brightly colored squares and wobbly numbers are drawn on the ground. The neon dust lingers on knees and palms, and bare toes. Just one stick, and the sidewalk becomes a playground.
In this case, it’s not just a game on an anonymous sidewalk. The chalk changes a banal but specific detail into something magical. But not only did the chalk turn a simple air vent into a window onto a magical world — it made me feel like a kid again.
Diana Lempel is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She writes about the intersection of the everyday and the imaginary on her blog, dianalempel.com.