I lusted after my father’s Kindle since he bought it a year or two ago. Whenever I flew home or flew to school or did any sort of traveling in general, I entertained the exciting delusion that I could read five books by the time the trip was over. Whether it was a daylong plane ride or a weeklong road trip, I crammed my backpack with many unhappy books that know they’re nothing more than dead weight. But if I had a Kindle, I would’ve had room for other things in my backpack. Things like toothpaste.
I now have a Kindle. A Kindle Paperwhite. I pre-ordered it a month or so ago. The week after it arrived, I carried it with me everywhere, as you do with a new instrument of technology. But as my dad says, they’re only good for reading books. I felt rather silly opening the Kindle during dinner at the mess hall to realize there was no reason it should be there with me.
After the initial excitement wore down, I actually began to read on it. Nothing for school, because I already had the physical books—weird phrase—and they are better for quick referencing. Several texts found themselves sucked out of the proverbial cloud into my little friend. Poetry by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and John Donne, the ESV Bible, some Nietzsche, Dickens, and sets of essays by David Hume, Mark Twain, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Those are just the freebies. I bought Ron Hansen’s Mariette in Ecstasy, which was only three bucks, and just an hour ago the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of the Brother’s Karamazov. For a romantic like me, the possibilities are endless. I could be reading Nietzsche right now!
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.
I began my first journal on December 30, 2001. It is spiral bound, but the spiral is covered by paper that joins the front and back covers of the journal, which has an old map of the world printed on it. The designers chopped a square out of the front cover, leaving a window to the first page, on which a sailboat is floating under the early morning moon. I remember loving this journal and having no clue what to write in it. The first entry: