I keep a box of crayons in my office — a Crayola 24 pack. It was an office supply store impulse buy I threw into my basket after shopping for hanging file folders, good highlighters, and a sturdy three hole punch. The unopened box sits unused and on display, a few bright colors on a bookshelf otherwise composed of neutral pages and dark jewel-toned spines. It’s been there since I got my job — a reminder to break from complication and look for happiness in simple things.
Last night I dreamed of sitting down across the table from a stack paper. I can’t remember my intention, but I do recall the timeless joy that accompanies opening a brand new box of crayons.
After opening the box, carefully, I slid all 24 onto the table (crayons are best worn down, not broken) and looked for “cornflower blue.” The name confused me as a child because the flowers I knew grew in shades of red, pink, white, and yellow (not blue), and I wasn’t sure such a plant existed.
I know it now, of course, but twisting the crayon between my fingers, I discovered the color was no longer called cornflower blue — it was called nostalgia.
A darker shade was ambivalence. A lighter one, shame. It’s greener cousin was remorse.
The purple shades were uncertainty and frustration. The pinks, hurt and irritation.
“Terrible names,” I thought — the colors were shades of insecurity, hues of heartache, a spectrum of sad tints and melancholy tones. I remember thinking “I can’t color anything with these.”