Sometimes the writing on the wall finds its way into your heart.
Illustration by Morgan Krieg
By Jessie Mazur
O n the inside of the slimy walls of the horse-trough soaking tubs at Wild Horse Hot Springs, someone scratched “soul sprinkles” into the algae.
I don’t know what soul sprinkles are, but I like to think about the person who wrote the message. I picture a jovial group of bikini-clad, beanie-wearing friends with bottomless Coors cans glued to their hands, giggling over a misspoken phrase in the subfreezing winds that frequent Sanders County.
This kind of peer graffiti offers an unfiltered glimpse into the human psyche. Nestled among scrawlings of penises, heart-encased initials and swastikas, there are a few nuggets of misspelled wisdom with the power to stick in your mind like a strip of soggy toilet paper on your shoe.
For example, on the bathroom wall at the Remington Bar and Casino in Whitefish, cute, curvy letters read, “Some of us are alive, but not truly living.” An inspiring cliche to any half-drunk twentysomething hovering over a toilet seat.
Just below it, as if in an effort to out-basic its predecessor, another note reads, “Live it the f*** up!”
This uplifting interaction between porcelain throne sisters wholly captures the essence of the Remington women’s bathroom. If you’ve been there, you know how many sobbing queens have been told that they’re “too good for him anyway” on that wooden bench just inside the door. You’ve probably accidentally walked into the background of an #outwithmybeetches selfie after being showered in compliments from a stranger over your supes cute leggings or adorbs felt hat. I don’t know how you escape that bathroom without feeling empowered. Even the walls are telling you you’re a badass babe.
I don’t know how you escape that bathroom without feeling empowered. Even the walls are telling you you’re a badass babe.
The most inspiring graffiti I’ve seen this year hangs on the back of a sign suspended from the railroad tracks 20 feet above the Whitefish River. A creature I can only describe as a Pegasaurus—a stegosaurus with majestic wings and a halo—flies beside a quote in the same white paint. It reads, “life after bedtime.”
I can only imagine this drawing was produced by someone in the 12- to 16-year-old age range, climbing train trestles and dodging the curfew cops to execute this silly feat — a rebellious act of vandalism rooted in childhood innocence. Any bumpkin can spraypaint “Let’s Go Brandon” on a sidewalk. It takes ambition and imagination to suspend a Pegasaurus where every Sunday summer floater will see it.
On a rain-soaked day, I wander one of Whitefish’s philanthropically-funded paved walking trails and pass by some friendly chalk drawings of eyes … or maybe they’re boobs. Like poetry, the chalk art refuses to be defined and I’m reminded of “soul sprinkles.” Sometimes, in the soggiest of places, we find vulnerable moments of exported consciousness hanging in time (or tub scum). A sprinkling of human connection waiting to scratch the surface of a stranger’s soul.
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