Fifty shades to look through and choose from
My husband, Peter, is a man of few colors—black and gray, to be exact.
He has always been this way, as far as I know. Peter is not opposed to color, but I think it makes him a little nervous. He worries that one color might not go with another or that there might be too much color in one place—especially if that one place is on him.
So he goes the other route and opts for no color at all—unless you call 50 shades of gray a color, which I don’t.
We’ve been remodeling our house lately. It had been freshly painted when we bought it: The walls were a pale gray, which I didn’t mind, and which immediately put Peter at ease. Our living room furniture predates our marriage and belonged to Peter before I met him, so it is black. Lately, I’ve been adding some color. Peter has been quite tolerant—but he does have his office, which is also the guest room, in which he can take refuge.
The carpeting in his office is gray, and he bought new office furniture in black. Then he bought a gray couch which turns into a guest bed. Finally, to complete the look, he hung a beautiful Ansel Adams print up on the wall and it is, naturally, black and white.
Now, when I go looking for Peter in the evenings, he is dressed in a black sweater and gray jeans, sitting in his black chair in his gray room.
In low light, he can be difficult to locate. But I know this is calming to him, and I’m not complaining. I just call out to him until he answers.
Color affects us all differently. I didn’t used to be a person who wore a lot of color. For a while, I worked in business and traveled a lot, and I heard it was a good idea, when traveling, to wear black so everything would match and stains wouldn’t show. I took the advice to heart and had a closet full of black suits and black shoes that I would wear under a black trench coat as I made my way to the airport with my black briefcase and black luggage. I didn’t worry about matching or stains in my monochromatic get-up, but after a while, it became rather dull.
When I left business, I decided to leave black clothing behind, and I started wearing colors. For a while, I refused to wear anything black. I’ve softened my stance with time and now occasionally wear black, but I still like a pop of color.
I like bright blues and greens and the occasional deep yellow. I like reds if they are not too orange, and deep pinks and fuchsia. I always have flowers on my desk, and sometimes just looking at the colors is enough to remind me that my mood is unreasonably dark, or that I am forgetting all the reasons I have to smile.
This is the time of year when color is more important than ever. We go out of our way to bring color and light into our homes to contrast the gray of outdoors, to brighten the shorter days. I’ve got some fairy lights and red branches to brighten up the balcony, I’m making plans to decorate a tree, and am thinking of putting something colorful and cheerful on the front door.
I’ve told Peter all about all of this, of course, and he is agreeable—as long as he has his gray room to retire to.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each Wednesday.