saffron? noir? vermillion?

Prompt: Your favorite color and why

I dunno. I mean, sometimes I answer yellow.

Yellow is bright and happy. It reminds me of sunshine and smiles, of the vibrant splash of Scotch Broom on the hillside in spring (my sister once called it French Sweep when we were children, and I think of that every time I see it, ever since).

Yellow is butterflies on the wind, and dandelions under my chin. It’s sunshine on my face, and a bouquet of yellow roses from my sweetheart. It’s the daffodils nodding in spring, and a golden lace dress that made me feel like Belle. Yellow was my first motorcycle.

When I say yellow, people tend to look surprised. “You? Yellow?”

In high school, a teacher asked me what my favorite flower was, and without hesitation, I said, “Yellow roses.”

She yelped out a startled laugh, too surprised to keep it back, and snarked, “I’d’ve thought you would like black roses!”

Black.

Sometimes I do think my favorite color is black. I wear a lot of black and charcoal, a trend started by my teen admiration of Audrey Hepburn. Oddly, it was her occasional black pantsuits and ridiculously over-the-top elaborate skulking outfits that influenced my tastes, rather than her flaring Givenchy dresses of the 50s or brilliantly mod wardrobe of the 60s.

Black is the velvet night sky in which the diamond stars shimmer. Black is the soothing silence at the back of the lawn, away from the dizzy lights and noise of the party, where I lie down on the grass in the shadow of the tree at midnight to smoke a cigarette and hope nobody misses me, or comes to look. Black is the absence of chatter and crowds, where the embrace of solitude  restores me.

Black was the color of my mom’s hair, and darkness her brown eyes seemed to approach in the shadows of depression. It is the color of my first dog, and my second motorcycle.

But “black” doesn’t feel like an answer to the question. Black feels like a non-answer; the color that wasn’t. I mean, I know it isn’t–it’s more like every color all at once, rather than the absence of color.

Also, answering, “black,” sounds hopelessly angsty and depressed, as though the ghost of 90s-me is still clinging to my back, muttering Soul Asylum lyrics in my ear (she kind of is). I might as well sigh and add that the tears of unicorns are my favorite beverage … I would say energy drink, but nothing gives me energy (see what I did there?).

Usually I answer “red.” This is also a true answer, though like the others on this list, it is not the only true answer.

Red is the swing of my mom’s coat as we leave the house, late once more, for church. Red is the boxy red 1993 Nissan Sentra I learned to drive in. Red is the roses in my parents’ front yard, the cherries that dripped from the tree in the backyard of my childhood home, and the spreading leaves of the Japanese maple out front. Red is the sweet taste of her homemade strawberry jam. Red is the explosion of sun-warmed raspberries against my tongue in the summertime.

Red was my moms’ professed favorite color, and the color of the dress I wore to her funeral. Red is the color of love and loss, of fond memories every time I see the eye-catching brightness of it.

 

 

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