I remember when we—the first on our street—blatantly and purposefully broke the 1970s outdated and expired covenants for house color. The painter slapped on the off white over the dark brown trim. Then went on the country blue—my favorite color—over the faded dark forest green. It never occurred to us that anyone would think anything other than how pretty it looked.
Then it rained—only lightly. And, our friend, the painter, tilted his head as he pondered the small bubbles and said, “I think it’ll smooth back in as it dries,” and it did.
Later Renee, across the street, said, “It looked awful, but then when it dried, I told George, ‘It looks pretty good. I think I can look at it.’” The thought to consult the neighbor—who’d look at the house far more than I would—never ever crossed my mind. I never thought how important color could be.
Then, as years passed and houses were painted lighter, more updated colors that washed away the 70s’ idea of beauty, we added a front porch, and Renee became sick. There was an experimental treatment; and unknown to all, she was on the placebo. Then, one day George was out painting his trim a bright, sunshine yellow. And, we—all of us neighbors who knew them—we all knew why. And Jay and I looked at that yellow and we said, “It sure is yellow”—all winter long—and when the college kids came home, they all said, “It sure is yellow.” And when spring came, the vibrant forsythia in their front yard burst into bloom, and the whole house seemed to sing of happiness—but it was not so.
After Renee died, George sold his house and moved out East close to his daughter.
In moved a man who’d never seen our ugly green—never watched our children young and grow up. And the first thing he did was paint over all that yellow.
Often we color our world—we color it the way we want it to be. Sometimes it looks good; sometimes it doesn’t. Some days it rains, and then later the bubbles dry out smooth. Sometimes they don’t.
I used to not know how important color can be—but it is.