When I was in first grade, we were given mimeographed sheets (look it up, kids) to color. They had rows of small images, like comic strips, filled with simple outlines–a house, grass, an improbable spiky sun. Below the images were empty dashes where we would write in the name of the object and then color it in.
Whether or not my parents truly had favorite colors, I assuredly had bugged them until they both claimed one for me. My mother said blue was her favorite, and my father reported a fondness for green.
When I took out my bright Crayolas–how I loved those crayons, especially the breathtaking tiered assortments which came in boxes with a built-in sharpener–I was obsessively careful to be fair. With mathematical precision I would parcel out an equal amount of blue and green as I meticulously filled in shapes.
Fairness can be a simple for a five-year-old.
It happened that on our very first date in college, Jim wore a hunter green button-down shirt, and I wore cobalt blue silk. I have a curiously acute memory for fabric.
When I went out today to capture images of green, I was drawn to interiors–to the soft cotton fabrics with which I nested, creating quilts for our children-to-be; to bright emerald silk like the precious yardage my daughter brought me from India; to the ribbons Jim and I would use to wrap gifts well into the wee hours of Christmases past as our children slept and we gamely attempted to assist Santa.
But when I think of Jim’s greens, they overwhelmingly tend towards the outdoors: the brilliant green of those pre-incarnadine multitudinous seas, the diamond at Fenway Park, the solemn gray-green Solitario Jorge.
Blue and green remain my favorite colors. The inexplicably dark muddy walls of a new bedroom have been painted in hues I may as well have picked for their names as the sky-like colors they turn when lit by sunrise: the color of the wall towards which my head tilts and tosses while I dream goes (perhaps ironically) by “Escape” and the other walls (with the assistance of three coats of primer) have been brightened to a shade called “Air Kiss.”
When I first walked into the same formerly dark room (further ensombered by a huge, barren black tree painted on one wall), I had what is known in our family as “an episode”: my youngest child, alarmed to the point of thinking I had encountered yet another serious injury from grief-related klutziness, rushed in. I choked out to her not that we needed to get to the hospital again, but that I missed her dad so much, adding the plaintive non-sequitur that I needed the room to be a happy color.
Green speaks to me of Jim–the Scout leader, the outdoorsman, the nature lover. His eyes, especially as they looked at me during the months he knew would be our last here together. Shagging flies on the Green Monster. Hiking in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Walking hand-in-hand around the Emerald Necklace. Holding our youngest infant’s tiny hands and gently guiding them through the sleeves of a mint-green sweater knitted by her grandmother. The shiny Boston Celtics-green wrapping paper on what he knew would be the last present he gave me.