Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Sidewalk of Love

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Whenever friends come to visit me in Los Angeles for the first time, they always want to see Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  In all honesty, this collection of Hollywood “stars” is completely cheesy, but I guess stepping on Humphrey Bogart’s “star” is about as close as most of us are ever going to get to shaking his actual hand.  After all, we go to cemeteries and interact with the tombstones as if they were the actual person, so why not relate to a piece of the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard?

One can laugh at the corniness of the Walk of Fame, but the concept has been imitated countless times over.  In my travels, I’ve seen a Cowboy Walk of Fame, an Astronaut Walk of Fame, a Yiddish Theater Actors Walk of Fame, a Surfer’s Walk of Fame, and even a Physicist’s Walk of Fame at Caltech.  I will not be surprised if someone already has the url: bloggerswalkoffame.com

I’ve seen this “walkway” idea morph into other concepts that move away from the “fame” idea.  Before I moved back into Los Angeles, I lived a few miles south in the beach community of Redondo Beach, where Sophia still lives.  The next town over is Hermosa Beach.   

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In 2000, the town created a “Millennium Walkway” at a local park.  Local residents could purchase bricks to be etched with their names.  But unlike the theme being famed Hollywood actors or astronauts, the theme was a simple one —  “Love.”   Each brick would bear the name of a loving couple, mostly those who were happily married.

It was a beautiful, romantic idea. 

It was also incredibly stupid.  

Because a stone symbolizing a couple’s love “forever” is more of a crap shoot than a Hollywood star immortalizing Judd Nelson’s acting career.  What could be more fleeting, more ephemeral —  than love?

Six years after the Millennium, several of the marriages celebrated “forever” have already gone kaput.    In fact, three divorced couples are in a battle now with the city of Hermosa Beach to rip out their names.   Two of the requests have come from new wives of two men whose names remain etched in brick with those of their ex-wives.

Hermosa Beach Community Resources Director Lisa Lynn reluctantly acknowledged receiving the requests by telephone.

“One wife was going for a romantic stroll with her new husband and low and behold, she saw his ex-wife’s named etched in brick,” Lynn said. The one ex-husband who contacted the city said his new love would not marry him as long as his ex-wife’s brick haunts her millennial footsteps.

Lynn responded to the requests by saying the city has no plans to remove any of the walkway’s 738 bricks, she said.

Do I hear lawsuit?

I always hear of lovers who get a tattoo of their beau’s name. Does it ever come off?  Or are you forever scarred with a remembrance of that relationship gone bad?

On the day that Sophia and I moved into our place in Redondo Beach, the City was doing some work repaving the sidewalk right outside our garage.   After they left, we took a tree branch and engraved our initials into the cement.  It is still there.  I look at it every time I visit.  But rather than it being a negative memory, it reminds me why I keep coming back.

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48 Comments

  1. Back in my college town, one of the main sidewalks has the initials of me and my first love etched into the cement. Of course, we broke up about a month or so after.

  2. That Walkway of Love is one of the dumbest ideas I ever heard.

    But I love the N heart S written in the sidewalk. That’s the real stuff right there.

  3. I just saw that I was your crush of the day!! You have no idea how absolutely thrilled and honored I am. Thank you, so much.
    *giant smiling*
    🙂

    Some people think they can erase the past or change it simply by wrenching free a brick, eh? Not so easy.

  4. Loved the ending, Neil. So darn sweet and just plain…nice.

    My initials are carved — or rather, my name was signed — in a little wooden shelter situated in the rain forest on the Dutch island of Saba in the Caribbean. I was on my honeymoon and my husband and I signed our names. Wouldn’t I like to go back to see that signature once more!

  5. What a sweet ending to the post! Now I feel all gooshy inside.

  6. Yup, the end makes me positively melty.

    (That and the climbing-its-way-to-100-degree-weather day here on the east coast of our country.)

  7. Having someone else’s name put on you in a tattoo is a ridiculous concept to me.

  8. super sweet. from what you write on your site, it sounds as if you and Sophia actually have more holding you together than most ‘intact’ couples…

  9. See? You can be just as ‘real’ as anyone else.
    This is a lovely post.

  10. Aha! Just as I suspected – you do have romance in your soul. That last line (and the inscription) proves it.

  11. That was extremely sweet! Much better to visit than the Bee Gee’s star!

  12. Aww, that was gushy and adorable!

    And also reminded my cynical heart a little too much of The Giving Tree

  13. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    Nothing says love like a bit of minor vandalism.

  14. I married my high school sweetheart nineteen years ago. Back then, he found a rock the shape of a heart on which he wrote EDM + LMC. I still have it. Maybe the secret to true love isn’t buying a brick but paying attention to saving a rock that can be easily lost.

  15. If Sophia doesn’t kiss you for this, I will…pure and sweet. As much as you’d like to find something to justify a lot of counseling, the fact that you see those initials in a positive way shows you’re well adjusted. Sorry to disappoint you.

  16. your women readers are so easily sucked in.

  17. that was just nice. next time i’m in love, i’ll redo the garage.

  18. I just drove through that area… Hermosa Beach/Redondo Beach — we were going to Orange County for a conference and were driving around before our hotel was ready for us to show up. Gorgeous areas, aren’t they?

    Love the post.

  19. Worked at a church-school that sold bricks for a fundraiser…and then had a major schism. People did not want their bricks installed, but they’d already been inscribed. A dear Christian co-worker offered to deliver those bricks, personally, right through their windows.

  20. People get their panties twisted over names on bricks?

    What about having children with someone you thought you’d love forever? But people have children without thought of “forever” like it’s just a trivial thing. Isn’t that more permanent and long lasting? You are part of someone’s genealogy forever? And thousands of dollars in child support payment for 18 years probably have more impact than a stupid name on a brick.

  21. The Walkway of Love is equivalent to having your beloved-of-the-moment’s name tattooed somewhere on your person. With tattoos, I always tell folks that about the only safe name to have tattooed is “Mom.”

  22. I have always loved those bold, irrational displays of ridiculous love. Ever seen an overpass or water tower in Texas?

    It’s that fabulous, fleetingly mad feeling of forever, of holding something eternal. Who doesn’t want that?

  23. Johnny Depp thought Winona Ryder would be his love for time immemorial. He had “Winona Forever” tattooed on his arm. Alas! it was not to be. His arm now says “Wino Forever.” A bit of the budget-conscious, that one.

  24. How incredibly stupid for them to want the bricks removed. Just let it be. Some people though, so incredibly petty.

  25. well my brother is one of those guys with the name of his girlfriend tattooed on his arm….it will end in tears i just know it.
    in the heat of the moment, though, i suppose it’s easy to be swept along. our minds don’t always step in until a little later.

    there is a tree somewhere with the initials of my ex husband and i…but i still treasure the memories of that moment.

  26. If the city won’t remove the “offending” bricks, might I suggest a chisel and hammer?

  27. Can we humans get any more silly and ridiculous than we already are ? If someone won’t marry you because your ex and you are engraved somewhere on a brick, then they are probably doing you a tremendous favor.

  28. I heart Neil. You made me smile today, thank you.

  29. My college boyfriend and I signed our names on the same tile at a restaurant in Cabo seven years ago. I sort of like knowing it’s there.

  30. I see your point on the walkway of love there Neil. If I had to walk by my husband’s x-wife’s name everytime we took a stroll there, it would drive me crazy! I’d want the brick destroyed! In fact, I would go so far as to show up there in the middle of the night and “wreck it” myself. 🙂 These other new wives aren’t very resourceful are they. Who needs a law suit. I could have it obliterated all by myself.
    🙂

    On the topic of tattoos, I had my present husband branded across his heart with my name nice and big, and a long stemmed red rose. Very cute, and very BIG. 🙂 Just let him try and find another Teri spelled with one “R.”

    Your ending was sweet! 🙂

    3T

  31. if i ever thought of getting a love tattoo, maybe i’d to a big _______________ line and then underneath, FOREVER. then i could just use a sharpie to write in my love’s name…

  32. I’m calling the Redondo Beach Department of Transportation as we speak. They love to get the names of people who deface their roadwork.

  33. True story: My paternal grandparents never loved each other all that much, though–as
    a kid–I never knew that. One of the things I always liked to check out on my visits to their house were the initials in the cement near the back porch. Before I learned my alphabet, they were mysterious to me. Afterwards, I realized that the K+E=S stood for their initials. It never said K “hearts”E. It was merely a mathematical equation. On the day we sold the house, I took a last look. I knew the reality of the marriage behind the initials…and it made me sad. But I would never destroy them.

  34. “…but I guess stepping on Humphrey Bogart’s “star” is about as close as MOST of us are ever going to get to shaking his actual hand.”

    So…I am assuming you are referencing grave diggers?

  35. That must have been a nasty divorce if they even want a brick bearing their names ripped from a city sidewalk!

    And I think it’s so sweet that you visit yours and Sophia’s initials.

  36. Neil, you just brought a tear to my eye!

  37. That’s the sweetest thing ever. My ex-husband wrote my name on his bong once!!! (that doesn’t count does it?)

  38. The sidewalks in Redondo Beach are really colorful.

  39. Annie — That’s my bad photoshop job. You couldn’t read the letters in the original so I played around with the contrast and the sidewalk turned into a combination of cement and LSD.

  40. Did you show the Bee Gees star on purpose…How Deep is Your Love?

  41. If only love lasted as long as etchings in cement…

  42. I find myself so touched by your statements regarding the last photo…

    I love you and Sophia and am promptly going to find an opportunity to create “J + N and S”

  43. This makes me think of those people who propose to their lovers on camera. Does anybody ever get turned down when they do that?

  44. True confessions: I still have my first love’s class ring. He wanted me to keep it.

    I think I should return it to him–but I don’t know where he is and don’t want to make contact…..

  45. A friend of mine has her wedding date tattooed on her back. She’s now been divorced a few years. She gets asked about the date and has now adopted the habit of coming out with outrageous stories of what that date signifies. Very amusing…yet a lot of work for sure.

  46. Now I see why there are so many references to Redondo and the South Bay in general. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I grew up there, my dad lives in Redondo and I blade through Hermosa almost everyday of our vacations. Where is this walkway of love, because the next time I visit, I must see this……maybe the squares in contest will be removed by the time I get there.

  47. aw, you got me at the end of the post neil. damn you. 🙂

  48. that is so classic, about the bricks. like tatooing a lover’s name on your forehead and then later having it removed when broken up

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