I have lived my life in the deep comfort of black and gray. Perhaps that is what spoke to my
spirit about the Pacific Northwest. There was a strange sense of belonging that emerged when embraced by thick blankets of fog or rain which perhaps mimicked my own inner landscape.
That landscape was formed in the Salinas Valley where I was bussed from the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks” to the high school populated by the sons and daughters of the small town movers and shakers. To further alienate myself, I wore some version of gray and black my whole freshman year.
Even now, over five decades later, on the rare occasion I actually go clothing shopping, I often announce to helpful clerks, “Do not let me purchase anything in black or gray,” as it litters my meager closet in many forms.
But we are leaving the Northwest now for a desert climate, having sold our home of thirty five years. This had led to scanning homes daily until one showed up worthy of an offer, which was recently accepted.
I loved everything we saw in the pictures of our soon to be new home except one thing… the orange accent wall in the kitchen- an accent wall to further highlight a small row of equally orange and lime green trim tiles in the open design kitchen.
A real estate agent explained that perhaps the effect of the tiles could be mitigated by painting over the orange wall with a tan or beige, minimizing the visual impact. And yet, as I further studied the pictures, I began to wonder if there was a lesson to be learned in keeping the orange wall.
All my life, I have embraced colors that blend well in the background. While blacks and grays can symbolize elegance and mystery, for me these tones have reflected the bleakness and lifelong low level of depression that have colored my inner landscape all these decades.
Black and gray…colors that avoid attention.
But now, the orange loomed on the horizon. What to do? Paint over the wall ? Replace the row of accent tiles?
Or, what if I simply let myself be open to the unfamiliar and unsettling orange.
Curious, I looked up the symbolism of color and was surprised to discover this:
Orange is the color of enthusiasm and emotion.
Orange exudes warmth and joy providing emotional strength.
Orange is optimistic and uplifting and adds spontaneity and positivity. Orange encourages social communication and creativity.
Orange is youthful and energetic.
Looking at the list, I began to wonder: What if, in making peace with the orange wall, I would be embracing my truer self?
In my heart, I knew the answer.
I want to be the orange girl…
Not the girl who hides in the shadows…
Not the girl trying to be small and unseen so as not to be hurt again.
Not the girl with the constant inner voice of despair and retreat.
No…I want to be the orange girl…
The one who steps fearlessly into the bright light of a desert sun.
The one who views the sparse desert landscape and calls it beautiful.
The one willing to slough off her shadowed self and, grow, like the desert inhabitants, into life in a new skin.
I want to be the orange girl…