Our Plague Year: Spots of color

I exclusively wore yellow shirts between the ages of 15 and 27. It was a desperate adolescent affectation, a hail-mary pass attempt at a personality, that simply continued way, way too long due to depression and stubbornness. Despite that, there are bright spots. Many friends who I made in that era fondly associate me with bright colors, and I learned a handful of semi-interesting facts about yellow: that butterflies raised away from other input will associate it with food more readily than other colors; that schizophrenics find it soothing; that it represents faith in european heraldry, and the Orisha Oshun in Ifá.

Yellow is a Spring color, and Spring is much on my mind. Of course, seasons haven’t existed since I was a child. We wake up now expecting any number of a possible set of weathers and temperatures, but never what is “supposed” to happen. Still, no one has told the plants, and they still generally agree on a time of year to emerge, to revive.

In my neighborhood come the white crocuses that my mother always called “snow-drops”, drooping over with the effort of pushing through the still semi-frozen ground. Then the decorative cherry trees turn their lurid pink. This week, we are up to the daffodils, with their faintly ridiculous bell looming nose-like out of a carefully fanned out pinwheel of petals.

These flowers are asserting themselves in emptying streets. I have cut my walks to once every three days, in order to avoid my fellow citizens who seem totally unconcerned with the 6 feet of distance we are supposed to be taking from each other. The flowers are matched on these walks by a plethora of brightly colored chalked messages from children. “We’re all in this together.” reads one. “Stay 6 Feet Away But SMILE” says another.

Tomorrow, my city begins a policy of Shelter in Place. We will be confined to our homes most hours of the day and we do not know yet how the policy will be enforced, whether police will exert their increasingly militarized authority to make sure that “social distancing” is defended. It is a strong possibility that the cheerful public health reminders from children will be replaced with a bullhorn and a tear gas canister if they are not observed.

But we ARE all in this together, and it becomes clearer every day, the fragile networks that keep us all alive. I have to believe that despite the fear, despite the dying and the dystopia, we are reaching each other, that we are growing stronger, that we are finding how badly we need one another. We will emerge from our houses and revive our struggle against the drabness and dreariness of fascism. Our roots grow deeper, and we grow brighter, more beautiful. We shine.

Published by Mordecai Martin

A luftmensch, a Jew, a way with words, all in one.

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