Most people have a tangible thing they are connected to: I have the color red.
It all started 17 years ago. If you ever get the chance to talk to my grandmother about the day I was born, the first thing she will say is “long legs and red lips.” This color has since spread like fire and come to symbolize much of my life.
First, I started wearing red dresses, then began collecting an abundance of red pens, and, eventually, painting the walls of my room red. Several of my English presentations have been given while wearing red, with my color-coordinated water bottle and pencil case beside me. It is what I wore in my last three plays.
However, I have learned this attachment can also cause stress. I take you to my Chemistry exam last May. It was the first of my IB exams, and, before entering, I was told that I could only take two things into the examination room: my blue pen and a dull pencil. I had to leave red out, which meant no water bottle and no pencil case. The rules had taken away my color; I guess bureaucracy does not have much room for it. The paper was a petit disaster.
That day, I mused - why red? I had always thought I was a spectrum of colors, not inextricably linked to a single one.
Maybe because red has its own spectrum: one that exhibits my everyday emotions. I like Math, and I love Theater; I feel deeply, yet I have a calm demeanor. I am moody (my parents will likely agree with this); I can be loud when I laugh, angry when I have to wait in long lines, and loving when I come home to my brother after a long day at school. I feel in red; my tenacity is evident when I edit articles in red ink. At every turn, in my daily commute, the red light that stops me also implores me to think and ponder. In those paused moments, I like to gather my thoughts, plan, and regroup myself for the next day. I like Frida Kahlo; I love sunsets.
At other times, I am not red. I don’t think much about the devil; I do not love fires. The women who wear red in “The Handmaid’s Tale”- I do not like them. I don’t care about Manchester United (the premier league soccer team). I know that a country’s balance of payments should not be in the red for too long. In “Pottermore” (a website created by JK Rowling), I was placed in Slytherin - green. I do not like spicy food. I am not a fan of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I am bemused by Indian women wearing red on their wedding day. Space travel intrigues me, but I do not think I want to go to Mars.
So, why red? Am I? Or am I not? Can I be both? The questions lead me into a vast, red ocean: Homer’s wine-dark sea, perhaps. Can I really know why I like what I like? I would agree that certain needs can be understood (hunger, thirst, loneliness), but can my preference for red? Affinities. Von Goethe’s “Elective Affinities”? I naturally move to this wavelength. But does the wavelength move to me? I sense I am my best when I am with red by my side.
I think I know not “why” but “what” I want. My reflections about red led to my search for “why.” But I found its cousin - what. Ultimately, though, red is who I am. It’s synonymous with my different shades: tenacious, passionate, confident. While today I’m red, four years from now, I want to be well-read.