The bedroom I left in late December of this past year was grey. In a reactionist swerve away from the key lime pie green of middle school, Dad and I covered the walls with an adult ashen grey—the shade of embers found in the heart of a fire that is just beginning to die. With my new wall-mounted bookshelves and IKEA furniture, it looked like the bedroom of someone who wants a PhD in something eventually. I really liked it, so the room stayed like that throughout high school.
But there was little color or light. The only window in the room faced away from the sun. It opened out underneath the deck. After reading Jonathan Safran Foer and listening to an art prof who said “Forms and colors can speak directly to human emotion. Does this red square speak to you? Any hands?” I began to see how color can speak to my spirit and alter the emotions I have about present life as well as memories of the past.
Going to school in Seattle, I became well aware of how color, or rather, the lack of color can compound my depression, something I have quietly dealt with since middle school. For me, depression is greyness: being void of emotion. And if there are emotions, they are sadness and self-loathing. They occasionally leave me numb. And there I was, standing on a hill in Seattle, surrounded by grey clouds. It could feel like the earth was reaching to dip me into those clouds and swirl me in them like a stick of lint-flavored cotton candy.
Memories I had of my room were like being locked in a shrinking box. By painting the room grey, I unwittingly symbolically ushered in the winter of my life-so-far.
The two journals prior to the one in which this essay is written were filled with prayers for spring. From my last journal:
My old room
was the womb
for many painful thoughts.
Now my old room
is their tomb.
In my old room
lies a loom
for me to weave a wondrous welcome to
my new room
I started to look for color despite the grey. In the Pacific Northwest, it seems that there are always flowers blooming. On a dark day I stood outside my dorm to count the different kinds of flowers. From one spot, I saw eight, each a different vivid color.
The next journal I chose—this one—has no lines. When I write in it, I might scrawl diagonally across the page or in a spiral. My journals are reflections of my life and soul, so I started writing in colors in an attempt to see the beauty in my story. Sometimes I grab flowers or grass and smear them on the pages along with charcoal or blood from a scrape. It’s a small way I’m letting the light break in.
I flew home from Seattle listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Going Home.” My family welcomed me at the airport and took me home. When I opened the door to my room, green walls welcomed me. Not the hideous middle school key lime pie, but a gentle serene green. My furniture had all been tossed or rearranged and on the wall above my bed my parents hung a four-foot by six-foot poster of the Seattle cityscape with Mt. Rainier, taken at Kerry Park. It is my favorite place in the city. Looking around my new room, the last thing I noticed was the window my parents had installed in the wall that would actually allow sun in every morning.
After a summer of intense heat and little rain, God has sent both rain and clouds. And I welcome them. The greyness makes everything else more striking. I am sitting on my bed. Looking out of both windows I can see the green leaves of the backyard trees in one and the green stems and leaves of out-of-season flowers in the other. My walls are green, as is the little bamboo plant on my shelf, the socks on my floor, the comforter on my bed, and the shirt on my back. I am surrounded by spring.
Thank you to my family and friends, who showed me incredible love this year. If you are depressed, talk to someone. There are open arms all around you.