I Come From Color

I wrote this piece September 2012 as part of my AP Literature course in high school. I checked my old email account and found reflections and writings from the course. It is almost five years since this piece, which I later submitted as a Personal Statement for college applications, was written. I was not comfortable with myself. Loving was painful. I did not cry; I got it in my head that if I did something bad would happen.

Before writing this piece, the class was assigned to write a poem with the divided by the sections, “Where I am, Where I’ve Been, and Where I’m Going.” If I recall correctly, our teacher circled the sentences that were most striking — these phrases, musings, and thoughts became the the basis of our Personal Statements. I wrote something about color.

Here is a copy, (or, here is a fragment of myself then and where I was), retaining the original grammatical errors and formatting.

I Come From Color
Generic lemon scented dish soap lingers on my fingers, hands, and arms. Specialists claim that although one can use dish soap to wash hands, it propagates dryness on the skin. This is clearly undesirable. But my mother did not buy me gloves and she always assigned me on “dish duty”. Lemon dish soap did not spare my tiny fingers, but instead coated them with grotesque lines that scatter across my palms and onto the back of my hands. One attribute was gratifying, I did not need cologne. It became my personal perfume. My hands are wrinkled, aged with fine lines and misshapen veins. They harbor small cuts; scars disseminate and seek sanctuary along my palms. Soap is incapable of expurgating these heinous features, but it’s tolerable because each cut, line, wrinkle, scar is a remembrance of my past, my childhood; the epitome of a small child bathing the dirty plates, filthy pots, and oil filled pans.
I belong in a garden of dilapidated flowers, budding unnaturally in murky water. Unaware of the tarnished environment, she planted me in dirt. Contaminated water sinks into my pores and infect my bloodstream — stems, corrupting my mind, branding me with filth. The weather cries pitifully on the garden, summoning cruel storms and ruthless winds. Trampled by the reptiles that hop along the pond, snickered at by the mammals underneath, I welcomed the abusive chaos. The soiled water, the rocks on the floor bed and the heavenly crashes of stream penetrate my petals, my skin, yet it keeps me humane. Sunflowers and frangipanis lay paralyzed in the courtyard, but the resilient lotus adapts to the climate, blooms despite its peculiar home. If humans disembarked from their animalistic instincts and transformed into peaceful flowers lying in the wild, I’d be the purple lotus.
The last memory I share with my grandmother is vague, a nebulous memory that soars above my present. She rewarded me a blank stationary with flowers embedded on its corners. Young and callow, I did not understand my responsibly to the white canvas. I acquiesced other artists — parents and peers to influence my painting, my life. I embraced their mentorship and knowledge, but I only own one canvas. I invested years mimicking my admired predecessors’ that I became aphasic, voiceless. The mixture of revolting shades formed as a collision of discordant opaque hues; there was black. The darkness engulfed the canvas, voiceless and blind. Slowly vanishing and drained of color, I crawled into the blackness, lost. I anxiously held my paint brush — a weapon in disguise — shaking as I attempted to light a path. I timidly glaze over the riot of colors, burying snippets of derivative creation with heavy brush strokes. My canvas is white again. I visualize my painting — my future with my own judgment. My canvas has no more corners, no more boundaries, it is absolute and limitless.
I am all shades of colors.

I write differently now. I am playing with different styles. I try to retain a formal, academic voice. I read that previous sentence and get a bit sad (but that is another writing entry). I read this, a piece written 2012, laugh, cringe, and cry. I miss parts of this writing. I do not miss writing like this. But sometimes I need to write like this. I was depressed. I felt helpless and silenced.

I do not wash dishes anymore. I use a dishwasher now. This is a big deal. My mother’s residence, an apartment built decades before we lived there, did not have a dishwasher. They replaced the porcelain sink years after we moved in. The tiles are still a gray-tan mix with spots, like freckles. I read this as a 22 year old person, almost five years later, and I wish that my-then-self allowed for vulnerability and friendship. I needed to cry then. I cry now and I allow myself to feel and describe my anxieties and pain to others.

My-then-self refuses to share parts of me. I anxiously, but happily share this part of me now.