subject line: yellow


Niwot, Colorado

It’s 4:04 on a Monday afternoon and I’m driving down Hover and it’s raining. It’s an angry rain, the type that pounds the ground, and the sky is rolling, its rage echoing, the occasional flash of lightning cutting through the gloom. The clouds are gray, darker than the normal gray, but not quite purple or blue or black because this is a May thunderstorm, not a July thunderstorm and summer has yet to learn the art of fury.

I’m thinking about this rain, about this lamb of a spring storm that so desperately wants to be the lion of a summer afternoon as I’m staring at the reflection of a red light in the newly-glistening pavement. The radio is playing, I’m not sure what song, but I’m not sure what song ends and “Yellow” starts playing.

Tomorrow it will be six months since I sat in this car at a different red light at the opposite side of town and listened to the opening beats of “Yellow” and cried as I don’t remember what song ended. I think the roads were wet then too, maybe with snow, but really I don’t remember, I just remember that I was sick to my stomach and I could barely hold the steering wheel when I heard Yellow and it reminded me of Sam and for some reason that was what broke my composure.

The piano intro ends and Chris Martin starts singing and I’m remembering that moment, that night, those weeks, and I don’t even connect that tomorrow will be six months and I don’t even feel sad and it’s a strangely peaceful state.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I open the window a crack. I tell myself it’s only for a second and I just want some air and I’ll roll it up when the light changes. But I stick my fingers out, and the desperately, fruitlessly furious raindrops plop onto my fingernails and it makes me feel alive, so when the light changes, I roll the window all the way down.

I drive slower than normal, and the wind slaps my cheeks and tangles my hair and the rain pours into my car sideways, and the drops keep plopping onto my arm and I don’t wipe them off because every drop that hits is another piece of me that comes alive.

I can barely hear the music over the wind, the cars, and the construction, so I turn it up and all I can hear is “it was all yellow” and even though the world outside is all gray, gray with clouds, with worn out pavement, with strip malls, my world is suddenly all yellow too.

Last time I heard this song, my black and white world was turning to gray—even though there was an abundance of color in the world around me because the light was turning from red to green and there’s something about how winter storms reflect the stoplights that makes the air turn to fireworks for a few seconds, I refused to see anything but the black and white, the yes and no, the best and worst.

That was the night I didn’t get into Stanford and the night that I lost myself and the night that started the days that I cried endlessly and gauged lines into my skin because my world had been torn to pieces and I needed my body to match.

Because when you see the world in black and white, you also see yourself in binary terms. Success is a glass ceiling and failure is a death sentence. There is no room for gray moderation, let alone the beauty of the stoplights in the snow or the reflections in the rainy pavement or a world that is glowing yellow solely because you want it to be so.

My window is all the way down and there is more water in the car than there ever should be and wow let’s hope I have a hairbrush in the backseat and my skin is wet and when the feeble sunlight hits the droplets the right way even the darkest scars on my wrists shine bright.

My world is still yellow even though nature is telling it to turn gray.

But I’m choosing to defy nature.

Because this is how we learn to live again.