Lara Beaulieu: Yellow

Spring '13 TOC



My friend, Aspen, and I were in complete agreement about the color yellow. We didn't like yellow and neither did anyone else. But we weren't mean girls. We weren't the kind of girls who went around hating colors. We weren't the kind of girls who would talk to you when no one else was around and then later pretend we didn't know you. We weren't those kinds of girls. So, we agreed that we had to be nice to yellow. If we weren't nice to yellow, who would be?


We felt sorry for yellow. Poor yellow. No one liked yellow. Sometimes we would draw with our yellow crayons just to make them feel better. We liked the other colors better, but we wanted to make sure that yellow felt included. There is no other color as sad and as lonely as yellow.


Aspen's parents had many yellow things. Hippies. Yellow cups, yellow plates, a yellow beanbag chair. In Aspen's room, hanging from the ceiling, a big stuffed sun with a smile on its face. We realized the truth about yellow one day when we were lying on the floor looking up at that sun. Yellow. So ridiculous.


I don't remember the yellow peel of the banana Aspen's parents gave us to eat that morning in the A-frame cabin near Salida. I suggested that we put the banana in the fireplace. I hated its sweet smell and mealy texture. Aspen went along, always agreeable. When the banana didn't burn, we were discovered. Once the banana was rinsed clean, it was returned to us to eat under closer supervision.


My room was yellow. Light yellow. We felt most sorry for the bright or mustardy yellows—but that does change the fact that my room was, indeed, yellow until I was 13. My walls, my shades were yellow. My comforter cover was blue. Later, my room had an Asian theme, with grass-cloth wallpaper, Chinese landscape paintings on the closet doors, and paper globes hanging from the ceiling. Rust and off-white. My mother chose the yellow when I was a little girl. I had asked for pink, like Mary Smith. Mary's room had pink walls and a canopy bed, with a pink Holly Hobbie bedspread. I wanted Mary's room, but my mother was a feminist.


There is a gap. Did I have any yellow when I was 14? When I was 15? Do I have any yellow today? Have I had any yellow for the last 30 years?

Yellow squash. I have yellow squash. The first to appear each year, lovely and promising. By late August, I begin to despair. Please, not another yellow squash.


In high school, I had a bold yellow skirt. A crinkled cotton, with a simple elastic waist and, at the hem, crocheted fringe. From Mexico, I think. It came with a matching top, but I only wore the skirt. Too much yellow to wear both. The skirt looked good on my slim hips. That skirt and a knit purple top. Sleeveless.

Eric. I must have worn the skirt on a date with Eric. Perhaps it was his favorite. Perhaps he gave it to me.


At my wedding, the colors were yellow and purple. Purple has long been my favorite. Offbeat, eccentric, fun. Such a lovely contrast. My mother suggested it and we both agreed. Yellow and purple napkins. Yellow tablecloths. Purple plates. Purple plastic ware. Flowers, yellow and purple. My mother wore a purple skirt and a yellow hat. My bridesmaids, Aspen and Rosemerry, wore dresses made from a matching purple fabric—a last-minute decision. My wedding was not well scripted. We thought the Aspen leaves would be yellow, but they were not.


If I called Aspen today and launched into a discussion of yellow, she wouldn't miss a beat. "Yes," she'd say, "I do feel sorry for yellow. Sometimes I make my stepdaughter wear yellow, because we all need to support yellow every now and then." Well now—wait—maybe she wouldn't say the last part. Surely Aspen would never make her wear yellow.


If I called Aspen today and asked her about yellow, I know she would remember. We'd laugh and wonder why we felt so sorry for yellow. She'd remember for sure. But I don't call Aspen. I never have. We lived in a world of "let's pretend" until we were 12, maybe 13. When I was in seventh grade and she was still in sixth, I'd see her on weekends. For us imagination still ruled, though our peers had given it up years before. Let's pretend we're spies, let's pretend we're orphans. Such a relief after a week of trying to walk invisible through the halls of junior high school, after a week of trying to make it home on the bus without having my thigh burned by a cigarette lighter or my hair snipped with a pocket knife. But by eighth grade "let's pretend" was no longer a game we could sustain. We didn't know how to be teenage friends. And, still, even today I could call her. She would remember.


Friends forever, we said. Friends forever.



Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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