Fifty Shades of Beige

I grew up in a beige world. The walls were beige. Our furniture was beige. Most memorable of all, however, was that my mother wore beige. Like, all the time. Blouses, skirts (never pants), shoes. All beige. My mom grew up in Nazi Germany, where one did everything in one’s power to blend in. I believe this is why she had certain personality quirks, in this case wearing nothing but shades of beige.

But it was more than that. The mood in our house was beige. No one emoted. I don’t remember laughter or yelling (except when my mom yelled at me and only when we were alone). I was not allowed to cry, or cough, or be sick. Everything had to remain beige. This, I believe, is one of the reasons I became beige. I needed to blend in, so I became the girl who never stood out. I was aching for a rainbow of colors, but all I could summon were more shades of beige.

In my mom’s later years, after I had moved out of the house, she began experimenting with—gasp—color. She wore patterns that contained more than beige and its various incarnations—ecru, eggshell, tan. She sometimes wore red. Blue. And on the biggest day of my life–my wedding day–she chose a bright pink dress. (By the way, if this were a novel, what you just read would be referred to as “foreshadowing.”)

Then, sometime in her later years, she discovered blue. My childhood mind wants to believe this is because my brother more a lot of blue and he was her favorite, blah, blah, blah, but I just think she liked blue yet never gave herself permission to wear it. By the time she got to live in an assisted living facility, everything she had was blue.

Weird and out of character for the always-need-to-please me, then, was that I should ever so slowly begin to show my true color. And my true color? Pink. I adore pink. My winter coat is bright pink. Most of my Vera Bradley bags are pink. My pens are pink, as are my notepads, my iPhone cover, my Kindle cover, and the notebook where I keep track of all of my literary submissions. And on the rare occasions I get a pedicure? Why, pink, of course.

So I guess I am finally embracing pink. Embracing more of life’s hues and moods and beauty. And if I am not yet ready to say what I want with words, well, just look at all I am conveying with my colorful pocketbook.

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