Words by Kathryn Monsewicz
Have you ever become a color?
I do not mean the color of your skin. Not the green sweater you wear on St. Patrick’s Day, or the white dress you wore because it was your last chance before Labor Day. Not the Iron Man facepaint you got at a carnival when you were 8 years old. And not the color of the fake, orange spray tan you got when looking like Snooki was the coolest thing since sliced bread (or toast, in this case).
When I was a little girl, I had no one favorite color. In fact, all colors, on and off the rainbow, I called my favorite color because I thought it was unfair to pick favorites. I wanted all the colors to feel welcome and not alone. Colors should never feel lonely.
In particular, I remember standing on the cold cement floor of the laundry room in bare feet, hovering over my mother as she hauled clothes out of the dryer. I was wearing hot pink pants and a Powerpuff Girl-pink T-shirt (Blossom was all the rage when it came to the color pink, although truly I always thought I looked more like Bubbles). I was fidgeting and bouncing on my toes, eager for her to find my matching pink socks. Today was a pink day. “Wednesday,” I told her, “Wednesday will be a green day.” That Wednesday, I would become the color green.
All my life, I’ve been a color. I’ve been yellow when I’m happy (think of pancake breakfast on Easter morning after church service), gray when I’m depressed (think of rainy winter days with salt and slush all over the road) and red when I’m in love (think of the warmth of his or her body, that sense of security). But now, at almost 20 years old, I’ve come to a color that not only do I speak for (calling it my favorite), but it, too, speaks for me. This is the color I have grown up to be.
It is this color that has broken me down in the best of ways.
When I started writing my first book, which quickly developed into a trilogy, I never realized how much of my own anger and frustration I let slip in between the lines. In short, the series is about a teenage girl surviving the zombie apocalypse through a paramilitary training program.
Whoa. Didn’t expect that, did you?
The book is violent. There is blood. Lots of it. I wrote this book in middle school — I was the color black, very dark and unhappy. There was a lot of angst. Perhaps that made me more of a payne’s gray (okay, I know, “shut up, art nerd.” Oh, and this book has since been abandoned).
Ever so slowly, I was approaching the color I am today. About half way through high school, I started to drop a significant amount of weight (this will be explained, and often referred to, in a future post). My health was in jeopardy, mentally and physically. This is when my walls, the big, tall cement ones wrapped in barbed wire that I used to block myself in, fight zombies and write my anger into this book, started to crumble. Pound by pound, day by day, I was breaking down and my blackness was fading into something more fragile. No longer could I watch “The Walking Dead” without turning away from the spillage of intestines when a walker was ripped in half, or the complete pounding in of a certain someone’s skull from season seven.
My music choice changed, too. All throughout middle school, I was a die-hard Disturbed fan. Instead of sugar, spice and everything nice, I threw in a little too much chemical X. Three Days Grace and Black Veil Brides always understood me when I’d sit and cry in my room over hating myself for the way I looked or for the talents I didn’t have. While I faced this new break down, I started to listen to softer music like my favorites now, Katie Herzig or Iron & Wine. Songs of depression and anxiety turned into melodies of the simple felicity the blackness inside me was craving. Softer. I was becoming softer.
And then came college. The place where every young adult is meant to “find themselves.” You’re supposed to dive deep into your passion, learn about how the world works, and make lifelong friendships. Finally, being on your own means you could become a brand new person.
I think, instead of becoming a new person, I found the person who I always had been inside. When I started my freshman year at Kent State, I cried. A lot. And in a lot of places. Rizman Plaza outside the Student Center, the financial aid office, the shower, the DeWeese Health Center, psychological services, Nixon Hall with my nutritionist, Eastway dining hall, the shower again, in my bed at night…
I was lonely. And I’d like to leave it at that. A stranger to myself, I didn’t recognize the color I had become because I spent so much time trying to create this strong facade that I could not live up to in the real world. I was outside of my home. And I was scared because I wasn’t the me I thought I was.
I’m the pooch who was finally trusted off leash, and all I did was whimper and whine.
But I needed this loneliness to retrace my steps to the little girl I used to be, when my only care in the world was what color is Tuesday. This breaking down, softening up, smoothing over of my coarse, darkened self, through the physical weight that I shed to my bones, was me discovering the girl who used to dream about nothing but happy, yellow days.
But my color is not yellow. Yellow does not fade from black. The night sky might turn to day when the yellow sun is shining, but the sky itself is still shaded with some darker pigment.
With this new, broken down, softer shell, I became the most soothing and reassuring color. There is a science in color therapy. Certain colors correspond to certain moods, but do we name the color, or does the color name us? I believe the color surrounds us, slowly sinking in and permeating the membrane of our colorless cell.
I am the color of the walls of my bedroom, where I’ve dreamed every good dream and bad nightmare of my childhood. I am the color of the candle burning the air I breathe in and out, in and out. I am the color of this trash can beside me that I have torn up and thrown into countless shreds of ideas, writing and planning. I am the faded version of the girl who hated herself, doubted herself, gave herself no credit.
In life, we change our colors. From toddler to past our prime, every human being has worn his or her fair share of the rainbow. And I am a color, now. I am one color, always. Life’s little rainbow gave my the faded version of it’s darkest hue.
I am lavender.