It’s not very often you see the boy behind the man. As age passes each day, the newness wears a bit thinner. The mysteries are no longer mysterious. Excitement is rare as nothing is new and exciting. The wheels in the day to day cog begins to flake with rust. The muscles in the back ache, and gray hairs begin to coat a youthful blonde appearance.
Then there is a magical day. A day not foretold, it is an unseen moment in time. The man becomes a boy again. His eyes widen at the sights before him. He’s never seen the world like this before. A grin smothers his face, shining from cheek to cheek. The world is new for a brief fleeting moment.
We had walked the cobblestone streets in Charleston, South Carolina, before but never with a toddler in tow. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art was hosting a special exhibit by my husband’s favorite artist, Shepard Fairey. Months before we would make our long drive to the historic city, my husband almost exploded with excitement.
“There is going to be a Shepard Fairey exhibit when we go to the beach. I really want to go.” He seemingly bounced up and down as he waited my answer.
“We’ll go then.” I responded with no real emotion.
“Shepard Fairey is from Charleston, did you know that?”
“Really?” I didn’t know.
“Yea, they let him paste artwork all around the city. I’m gonna look for them while we are there.” A little boy disguised as a man would be searching for graffiti Easter Eggs on his family’s first vacation.
The trip to the beach with a one year old went fairly smooth. We packed lots of snacks, and ate at Cracker Barrels on our southbound journey. We settled into our rented house in Mount Pleasant the first night. We tried to see the beach at Sullivan’s Island but traffic was backed up for over an hour. We sat in the car, and listened to a child who didn’t want to be buckled into his car seat anymore. I couldn’t blame him. We crossed the bridge from Sullivan’s Island back into Mount Pleasant, and stopped at Publix for groceries.
The next day we finally saw my beloved beach. Later in the afternoon, we ventured into downtown Charleston. We began our journey back to Mount Pleasant, and then right before we got onto the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, we saw it. We saw our first Shepard Fairey.
I threw my phone up and snapped off a few pictures.
The next day, we visited the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and took pictures standing next to original Shepard Fairey prints.
Before beginning our first family vacation, I made a decision. I do not know if it was a poor decision or an “okay-well-I-made-that-decision” kind of decision. I didn’t take or rent a stroller for our child. Instead, I decided on a Moby wrap.
There were many practical reasons to my decision. One being if we had brought a stroller then we couldn’t pack any luggage in the Mini Cooper. The second reason being that the streets in Charleston are narrow. I didn’t want to navigate them with a child in a stroller. I like having my child on eye view level. I like talking to him and letting him see the things I can see. Sometimes I worry if he’s stuck at stroller level view, all he can see is knee caps and crotches. Not a very exciting view of the world, and I can’t see his facial expressions. I like to talk with him about important life stuff like “Don’t touch that” and “GLASS! NOOOOOO!”
I tied my one year old to the side of my hip and our little family went walking Charleston’s old streets. There was an important flaw in my baby wearing plan. SOUTH CAROLINA HUMIDITY. Both my child and I were radiating more heat than the pits of hell. We soaked our Moby wrap within minutes. My poor little boy didn’t have the crotch level view, instead he was stuck next to Mom’s not-so-shea-butter armpit smell. The road to hell really is paved with good intentions, and humidity suffocates all the people entering.
My husband was a kid on a scavenger hunt. My baby-toting ass was along for the ride. Oh, how I wished we had a ride. My back was aching from wearing my child.
As we walked down a main street in Charleston, my husband noticed a group of people gathered next to building taking pictures.
He immediately darts across 4 lanes of traffic.
I’m wearing a baby. I can’t sprint across four lanes of traffic. I can’t run, not with 20-something pounds tied to my hip.
I do get to witness my husband become a child, running off into the promise land. Or graffiti-land.
I was hot. I wanted Kaminsky’s Most Excellent Cake really bad. I longed for air conditioning. I wanted to untie the child from my hip. I needed a shower. I smelled. My child was stuck smelling the pungent aroma wafting from beneath my left armpit.
As happy as I was to see my husband rediscover his child-like joy, I could only express one emotion to my own child as I stood on the side of a four lane street, stuck and waiting on my husband.
“Shepard Fairey can go eff’ himself.”
Power and glory has been secured in a stroller for our next family vacation.
Author’s note: This article in no way represents my absolute adoration for Shepard Fairey’s artwork. He is one of my favorite artists. I was hot and didn’t want to scour the city anymore looking for his work with a toddler tied to me. His artwork brought out an excitement in my husband, and I was truly grateful to witness my husband’s joy. It is rare to see those moments in adults. I appreciate the city of Charleston for allowing Shepard Fairey the unique opportunity to showcase his artwork throughout their beautiful city.