This I Believe

Ann Marie - Astoria, New York
Entered on March 4, 2007

I love the color green, but for the longest time I couldn’t remember.

I grew up a good girl, dutifully following the path her parents paved. At Sunday mass, I prayed as Mama did, beating my fist against my chest, “Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world…” In life, I heeded Poppa’s superstitious warnings, and never ate anything with wings on New Year’s for fear my luck would fly away; I kept my shoes off the table and I never allowed myself happiness because God would only take it away.

Then there was the color green.

“That color’s a bad omen,” Poppa often declared. “Cursed and evil. Never wear anything green somethin’ bad’ll happen.”

The problem was that from an early age, I was infatuated with green: the way the shy, innocent blades of baby green sprouted in our lawn every spring, melted Pistachio ice cream at the bottom of a cone, the foam of the ocean hitting the Coney Island shore, all stirred a profound sense joy that set my fingers trembling, while conversely, warming my skin like the embrace of an old friend.

One day I admitted my feelings to Poppa. I remember his putrid scowl as if he swallowed curdled milk.

“Ahhh! Uggg! That color’s bad. Whadda the matter with ya?”

His rejection cracked my heart in two and stung my skin with humiliation. I loved something cursed and evil. There was something wrong with me.

I stifled my admiration for green and embraced the more traditional Navy Blue and Bashful Pink. Poppa lost his scowl. In time, the memory of green slipped into oblivion.

Then one hellacious August afternoon, I past a young woman on the street, sipping a cool drink from a foot-long straw. There it was: a gentle shade of green, tamed by cream and melting ice cubes, staring back at me through a clear-plastic cup. Instantly, my heart opened, a sigh, reserved for infants and puppies, slipped through my broad smile, and my fingers trembled and I felt the familiar warmth and I remembered. I loved green.

But how could a color make me feel this way? It just did.

When I loved green, I felt self-awareness within my body. When I loved green, I remembered my faith in God, my fondness for snow. I remembered I was ticklish on the bottom of my feet and I wanted a dog.

This I believe: We are what we love, no matter how trivial. How else can we know who we are and what we’re made of? Our bodies alone are not enough. We live greater lives in those things that touch our hearts, for they are like little specks of sands leading to a vast beach.