Monday, July 28, 2008
The plan was to write something last night, but a load of DVR’d goodies got in the way. Then I was going to write this morning on the bus, but that didn’t happen for reasons that I’m likely to make a subject of a subsequent post because I have my topic in mind and I’m not the sort to switch ruts on a mere whim. I intend to share with you a pair of mentations on the general subject of color, and now I get to freehand it. I do have a rather free hand sometimes, but it’s been a while since I’ve exercised it here. Let’s see how much trouble I get into. (dangling preposition: half-point off before I start. Way to go, Chuckles.)
a) The hallway is done. Our apartment has a somewhat unusual configuration for a city place, but still features a long hallway off of which most of our rooms devolve. Since we’ve moved in, the hall has been a transitional space - not a place in and of itself, but a place between places, a trans-place. Poorly lit, painted in the degraded tone of Navajo White, pocked from the various decorations sporadically hung there to brighten an essentially unbrightenable space (by ourselves as well as prior tenants in the 1980s), we’d pretty much given up on it as a habitable environment on its own terms.
The solution: change its terms! Two weekends ago I got a nice can of off-orange paint and a smaller can of cheerful white, and we painted everything but the edges and trim. (for my peroration on the impact of painting a ceiling white, see here.) The change was significant, but incomplete - a ragged blot of washed-out grey still circumscribed our improvements and set limits to its impact. So this weekend we finished by painting the walls right up to the edges of the ceiling and floor. This moved the visual impact from a unmistakeable but crude enhancement, to refined completion. Those strips of old dingy white that lined the tops and bottoms of the walls had not just been reminders of where we’d started, they were anchors to an aesthetically-impaired history of possibilities left unexplored and compelled vacancy. By completing the process of filling the entire space with rich new color, we created a chromatic coherence that obviates all sense of the past.
Now, looking down the hallway, I see something I’ve never seen before: the future. It glows warmly in the ruddy morning sunlight; it reflects the wan illumination from the weak, garrish electroliers, making the most of the artificial light we’ve got. There is a cleanliness and purity in the lines at ceiling and floor, and as the floorboards reach out into the distance, they seem to glow with possibility. The hallway is no longer a trans-space - it almost transcends space. We want to hang out in it now. It’s a twenty-foot-long step securely in the right direction.
b) I don’t write much about Kelly here; she’s not one of those who embraces the publicity of blogdom. But when she does something extraordinary, I break that habit and let the world know. When I met her in 1985, I had a semi-full head of nice brown hair, which over the years grew thinner and thinner, and greyer and greyer, till I just gave up on it altogether and started pateshaving. It’s been about four years now since I’ve traded the hairbrush for the razor, and I don’t regret a bit of it. However, Kel’s been walking this road by my side for just as long, during which time her dark-brown locks have remained very much as they appeared when I met her - in color, anyway. This is because she took the time and trouble to make sure they got regularly tinted, just as soon as the first few silver threads appeared in the mix. Without getting into details, several months ago she decided to put an end to the artificial stasis of her hair color. She stopped dying, and let it grow. For several weeks her hair was a bit, oh, split - personality-wise. At the ends, it remained in masquerade, dark and homongenous, but as the roots grew out they revealed ever-lengthening strands of her own true self: a rich array of monochrome, black and white and silver, filiments at once glowing with absorbed light and shimmering with light reflected.
And on Saturday, I took the boy out on a bus ride and to a playground and a puppet show, while Kel got her ends cut off. By the time Z and I got home, Kel was back as I’ve not seen her in many years - unadulterated in her visual presentation. Her hair is shorter than it’s been in quite a while, though still thick and full. However, it’s a glory of tones from white to black and back again. Unaltered by tints, it has a fresh, natural presence - not unruly, but individualistic. The imposed sedateness of her longstanding dyejob has been excised and discarded. Kel has always been a strong, independent individual, and her hair now reiterates that strength and individualism. I’m really proud of her for taking on the change, and on a more selfish level, I like it better than it was before. She’s gotten rid of the color, and in doing so, she’s brought back vitality. Even when I was encouraging her months back to take the plunge, I hadn’t realized how great it would look.
I could go on, but I really can’t. Doings are afoot, and all that. So just remember: color can add or subtract, but it is the viewer upon whom the impression is truly made. So keep’em open and have a stimulating week!