A few days after my plane touched down at JFK International Airport and my dad picked me up and drove me to the house, I received a package in the mail. I saw the box on the front porch and thought little of it with our flurry of Amazon package deliveries happening. But then I saw the paint swatch. Alison’s paint swatch.
For as long as I’ve known her, Alison’s powers of creativity and thriftiness have collided with the use of paint swatches – you know, the ones you grab at the hardware store before making the huge decision of what color to paint your living room. She’s used them for cards, for signs, for prayer requests, and on this particular day she used it as an address label. And there was my name and address front and center.
I hurried inside to open the package (carefully, as to not disturb the lovely blue paint swatch) and inside I found a pile of things that made my heart feel KNOWN. Books, journals, a pen, chocolate (dark!), and a magazine.
This magazine is one that I’d never heard of before and once I skimmed through the contents and flipped through the photo-filled pages, I realized that this was my thing. The best of all blog posts bound in actual, tangible paper. I could flip through it as the plane was taking off and when I wanted to step away from technology for the afternoon.
While I soaked in my time at home, trying to capture and bottle each memory, smell, and conversation, I read one of these delightful articles from a woman noting her surroundings in this life’s season through the colors of the rainbow. As her rainbow looked like a laundry load of blue washed jeans and her daughter’s favorite purple glasses, I wondered what my rainbow looked like. I looked around my on my parent’s back deck and began to focus my eyes on the colors: the blue sky, the green leaves, the beige umbrella that both kept me cool and dry. As I sat reflecting, I realized that I could capture these memories after all, in broad strokes of small stories, from the colors around me.
Red. We ate entire meals of strawberries and raspberries. Every trip to the grocery store brought joy and gratitude of those affordable red berries (blueberries too!). We ate them with delight on my family’s back deck – putting them in yogurt, pancakes, and eating them straight from the basket.
My mom’s car is red. It got us back and forth from church, the lake, and on family outings for ice cream (once or more it was for dinner). Dad drove it multiple times to and from the airport whether to pick us up or my brother from his internship in Brooklyn. That red car contains of lots of conversations, laughter, and empty Dunkin Donuts bags.
Orange. We took a day to explore a few coffee shops in Manhattan and started our day with espresso drinks from Cafe Grumpy in Grand Central Station. They have the most beautiful orange Synesso from which I enjoyed a delicious cappuccino!
My family is big into breakfast and orange juice was also an important part of the week. Though toward the end, my little 5 year old friend, Asher, observed that our orange juice was actually more yellow, leaving me confused as to its category and us with a new joke about “yellow juice.”
Yellow. We were in Manila when we watched the Netflix series, Cooked, describe the process of fermentation. One of the places featured on our screen was a quaint abbey in Bethlehem, Connecticut, a mere seven miles from my brother and his wife. And at that abbey, there is a nun who makes cheese. After learning about her process, her technique, and the unique way she makes cheese from a wooden barrel with unpasteurized milk, we wanted to try! So one day on our trip, my three siblings and our two our spouses piled into a couple of cars and went to go buy cheese from the Cheese Nun. After getting a little lost in the woods, and marveling over the simplicity of the abbey, we bought the last two wedges of cheese from that week’s batch – celebrating all the way home. (P.S. It’s delicious – especially paired with honey that we bought from the abbey.)
Green. My parents have a large collection of mugs that we’ve donated to them or given as gifts through the years. They display our colleges, activities, and some inside jokes. My favorite one, though, is the smallest of the bunch, a green mug that fits perfectly in my hands and holds the right amount of coffee. My favorite place to sip is on the back deck, surrounded by a sea of green leaves from the maples, birch, and other trees that I know by their shape and smell.
Blue. My husband needed new shirts during our time in North America, since it’s hard to find his size in the Philippines. One day while we were preparing to go out, I glanced at his shirts hanging against the wall in the room where we slept: each shirt he brought was blue. Later that week, as he stepped inside the dressing room while we shopped, a hangers in hand, I noticed again that each shirt he had chosen was blue. He looks fantastic in blue (against his brown eyes), but we also took advantage of the opportunity to buy some other colors for his closet.
Indigo. The color of the ocean and of the giant comforter in my parents’ living room – both have certain and distinct smells of home and make my soul relax the moment I allow myself to be enveloped by them. It was Trent’s first time to the New Jersey shore and he walked to the water’s edge out of love for me. The comforter can also fit two of us at once. It used to keep my brother warm at night and since he moved out, it’s made its way to the stack of blankets for the family to use used while curling up with a cup of tea or a favorite television show.
Violet: I ordered a flavor called “Unicorn Poop” at the cupcake shop just miles from where our wedding reception was. Now, two years later, we were able to go back to the bakery who catered our cupcakes and smiled at their new cupcakes, each trying one that had come out since we sat for our tasting just before saying “I do.” The frosting was a soft shade of violet while the inside a delicious cotton candy flavored cake. Not only were the cakes sweet, but so were the memories that they brought back to us – eating the cupcakes after we shoved them in each other’s faces, surround by a sea of friends and the sea itself.
Our time in Connecticut was filled with family time, delicious food, and colorful memories that I know I can’t carry around in jars, but I get to paint them in my heart for years to come.