Leave Yourself at the Gum Wall

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Among the sticky and somewhat gross-looking brick wall that stood before me was a note —a rather lengthy one— left by someone who appeared to be struggling. “I have to be patient because the only thing that can save me is God.”

The Wandering Writer is a blog dedicated to travel and exploration, which is why we make it a point to record some of our most fascinating observations and experiences that we hope you can either relate to or be inspired to explore yourself.

We recently visited Seattle, Washington, and it was marvelous. In between the breathtaking views and famous stops like Pike Place Market, something that stood out to me was the Gum Wall. And not just for the obvious reasons.

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The wall is literally covered in gum. Gum from who knows how many people from who knows where. It’s pretty simple, you stick your gum on the wall–and maybe the occasional business card or thoughtful note and hope that it stays there forever. The Gum Wall served a massive purpose for me and I’ll explain why.

What once started off as a tradition that began around 1993, in which patrons of Seattle-based  Unexpected Productions’ Theatresports stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs, is now considered a tourist attraction by Market officials, locals and everyone passing through.

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[“It’s hard to be patient. I can’t save me, only God can save me. And God told me.. He told me this trial is going to last longer. It’s not going to stop, but I have to be patient because the only thing that can save me is God.”]

Among the sticky and somewhat gross-looking brick wall that stood before me was a note —a rather lengthy one— left by someone who appeared to be struggling. “God told me this trial is going to last longer. It’s not going to stop, but I have to be patient because the only thing that can save me is God.”

I looked at it, and with a steady hand I lifted my camera, snapped the best shot I could and came back with the blurred image you see above. Luckily I was still able to catch some words. Then I spit out my gum, grabbed my business card and left a piece of myself.

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Staring at the wall I realized how many people travel for healing, to get away, to escape, to share love, to be with someone special–from all walks of life. And although they’ll eventually be going back to where they came from, they’ll always leave a piece of their heart behind. This fellow gum chewer decided to post a little more than gum, and on something a little different than Facebook. It seems like he had a lot to think about.

When visiting the Seattle Space Needle I saw a Marine and his family enjoying the view. They looked happy. I wondered what he was thinking about. What was going on in his head? Maybe he was wishing this moment would last forever.

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I had wanted to see Seattle for a really long time. It was everything I dreamt of and a little bit more. Like most trips, it was busy, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to really stop and contemplate, and this letter on this very germ-stricken wall was a huge reminder for me that when you travel, you really do find part of yourself, and when it’s time to go home, you give thanks by leaving a piece of you behind. Though my heart may be in Los Angeles, I still left a piece of me in Seattle– a small piece, like a piece of gum– but a piece that will hopefully stay forever.

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