Juxtapositioning

words are foreplay for the soul
July 31st, 2009

Pink

I have a new thing for pink.

No idea where this comes from. For years, pink was right up there as Most Hated Color in the Universe. Possibly because I was surrounded by it: my walls were an insipid shade of pastel pink, my ruffled bedspread was sort of a washed-out salmon color, and even my rug was pink. There’s a photo of me as a wee thing, lying on that pink rug, nose in a book, wearing something plaid. Oh yes, 1970 was a great year for interior design.

Pink clothes were out. I allowed my body to be clad in drab plaidish kneelength dresses with Peter Pan collars, my long blonde hair with bangs to the forehead partly tied back with what appeared to be a thick length of colored yarn tied in a rabbit-eared bow at the back of my head, but at pink I drew the line.

Pink was for girls.

I thought I was destined to be a boy.

At age 11, I started wearing my older brother’s outgrown clothes. I could mainly get away with this only at home, so on rainy November weekends I snuggled into his old brown corduroy coat. I wanted to wear his old striped tee shirts as well but was afraid to ask for them, so I contented myself with choosing mannish corduroy pants from the Sears catalog.

I still couldn’t be a boy.

I asked to mow the lawn. I loved the snick-snick-snick of the old-fashioned reel mower’s blades, but they were afraid I’d cut off a foot so mostly the answer was no.

I wanted to empty the trash in the house, taking a brown paper bag around once a week to the various wastebaskets dotting the house and then putting the whole thing into the metal can outside the garage in the side yard, but no.

My job was to set the table. Every day. Was that right? Was seven table-settings worth one trash-roundup? I hardly thought so. In addition to setting the table, I also cleared it afterward. Seven times a week, one for every nuclear-family dinner. 14 trips back and forth from the kitchen with plates and forks and knives and spoons while the men in the family sat back with their feet up, lit cigars and took swigs out of brandy bottles.

I also vacuumed (sometimes) and cleaned the bathroom (sometimes) and dusted (frequently). I liked the old metal Electrolux canister vacuum. I liked the smell of Pledge on the old dusting rag, and shaking the rag out afterward on the front porch. I liked moving the knickknacks, one at a time, carefully wiping invisible dust from under and around them, and replacing them again. I liked the smell of Ajax sprinkled into the bathroom sink and the swish of the toilet brush.

But I didn’t like being a girl. I didn’t like being excluded from being taken to the rifle range to shoot a .22 at paper targets. I didn’t like being left out of week-long backpacking expeditions to Mt. Whitney — I never even got to taste the freeze-dried food they took in packets to save weight. I didn’t like the assumption that I was smaller and weaker and somehow not as interesting, because I was a girl.

Pink was a girl color.

In my 20’s I discovered fuchsia. Fuchsia is not pink. Fuchsia is stronger than pink. Better than pink. I had a fuchsia dress. A fuchsia bag. Fuchsia shoes. I embraced fuchsia as the not-quite pink, as the more-than-pink, and as the essence of being more than just a girl.

And then fuchsia became passe and I moved into black and brown and stayed there. For a long time I stayed there. Black and brown are safe. Black and brown have nothing to say. Black and brown hide hurts. Black and brown have no requirements.

This year I moved on from black and brown. Oh sure, they will always be my friends, but I’m making new friends now.

Pink.

It started with a Pepto-Bismol pink sweater. I tempered it by covering it with another sweater in brown, but still the pink was there. Matthew liked it, and said so. I liked it. I liked the person I saw in the mirror who wore it. I liked how it felt.

When I moved last month, I bought furniture in robin’s-egg blue and butter yellow. The other, obvious color that the room needs is pink, so I have begun creating the art for the walls using shades of magenta and turquoise and orange, to bring balance to the walls. Balance to my life.

And this week, a pastel pink tank top found its way to me. It looks good on me, this girl’s color. It feels good. It feels right. Pink.