This moment – paint me a rainbow


Emma Zawacki

On a hike, avoiding the slippery path, carrying the tote bag Jessie painted for me and the trail snacks we bought at the gas station. I was happy.

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately. There’s something about this time of year that’s meant for poetry, meant for my Gatsby-inspired playlist, meant for dreaming. 

But I think I spend too much time dreaming. My head is wrapped in the lovely green of March, has been for days now, so I’m missing February’s final falling petals—the fading purple threads of a month that I swore was going to be better, and it was

It’s just that February isn’t over yet, and I’m sick of dreaming—sick of letting those dreams carry me up, up, up into the clouds where the exhilaration of touching the sky paints me pink until I realize how far away the world is, how being all the way up here can’t coexist with feeling the ground beneath my feet. 

So, poetry. And it helps. The world becomes a little bit easier to understand. Never exactly easy though. 

I’m, apparently, too focused on the idea of happiness. February, all rosy-pink promises, opened her palms to reveal pale blue truth to me, and free-floating, I couldn’t ignore that I was tethered to all the wrong things. 

I wrote a poem about it, called it “the Gatsby effect.” 

I was giving everything I had to longing. Happiness, this elusive idea, glowed golden orange on the horizon, and it completely eclipsed the landscape around me as I ran towards it, its rays painting me that same exhilarating pink of being too high above the clouds. 

I never reached the horizon. I looked around me, realized I was standing where I’d thought the happiness would be, but it had never been there at all, and now the sun had set. Only darkness and the thought of sunrise were there to keep me company. 

Happiness, this elusive idea, glowed golden orange on the horizon, and it completely eclipsed the landscape around me as I ran towards it…

It was a lonely realization.

But part of me feels like I get it now. It’s not about being happy; it’s about being whole, enough. It’s about existing within every color of this rainbow, letting them all bleed together like watercolors.

I want the world to paint me red for every time I’ve felt like too much. Red for screaming about emotions I’ve never felt to somehow cope with the ones I do feel, red for every time I’ve cried over something barely worthy of my tears. Red that overtakes the blue when it’s easier to be angry, red that lashes out and will draw blood if I’m not careful. Red that pales to pink for the moments when I’m woven into the clouds, red coursing through my veins–red, red, red.

I want the world to paint me orange because you are orange. Orange for all the time that has passed, memories held against each other like faded photographs against something clearer in the mirror. Orange for the way your hand feels entangled with mine, the glitter in your eyes when you smile, the sound of your laughter dancing through any space we’re in. Orange for the moments when you tell me something real, tell me something I didn’t know before. Orange for the metaphors that I’ve fallen in love with shaping, the same way I fell in love with you, every word I’ve written about you. 

I want the world to paint me yellow like last-minute plans, like unexpected happiness, like the moments when I feel most myself. Yellow that’s all specifics, memories defined by little details. Yellow like magic—sunglasses that don’t seem to belong to anyone, footprints in the snow promising that someone has walked this path before us, but not a soul in sight, old letters pulled out of a box in my closet. Yellow to contrast the darker days, remind me that it won’t always be like this, never let me feel alone because someone will always answer a FaceTime call. 

I want the world to paint me green to quiet the noise, to give me silence and a routine and a watering can. Green like a vine that holds everything else together, roots to tie me down—the soup that I pour into a mug and microwave every day, the Steaz iced tea cans that litter my room, the plants that keep collecting on my windowsill, consigned to an early death, the note in my Notes app titled “poetry to process.” Green to remind me of how far I’ve come, to give my tears a different purpose, to brush its leaves against my ribs and calm the dandelions of worry. 

Violet for a future that is wonderfully without shape; violet for the world right in front of me, trailblazing a path through lilac fields…

I want the world to paint me blue even though it’s my least favorite color. Blue because it’s time to stop running. It’d all be nothing without the blue, and sure, it reminds me I can’t swim, but it’s also never let me drown. Blue like the car I drive that will always remind me of the one I lost, blue like the melodramatic pictures in my camera roll of me crying, blue like teary FaceTime calls and voice memos, blue like someone’s else’s sadness—even more out of my control than my own. Blue like the fear of a future where I’m alone, blue that runs inherently through the heart of the earth around me. 

I want the world to paint me indigo that doesn’t really make sense. Something indefinable and opaque to match how I feel about the world, like the secret intertwined amongst the stars. Indigo like oxymorons, like paradoxes, like irony—art. Indigo for wanting to hate the homework I’ve procrastinated until past midnight but being unable to because this is my passion. Indigo for questions that don’t have answers, for hating the people I love, for never being able to keep the secrets that are most important to me. Indigo for the moments when I think I’ve finally got it all figured out, but know I’ll be lost again in three days. 

I want the world to paint me violet, and then when I am lost, all I have to do is look down at my painted skin. Violet for a future that is wonderfully without shape; violet for the world right in front of me, trailblazing a path through lilac fields, seeing smiling faces, and trusting that my path will lead me to wholeness meant for me. Violet because I’m happy right now, and really, right now is all that matters. Violet because I’m learning to trust.

I want the world to paint me a rainbow, give me something to pray to, center me around my colors instead of the clouds. Paint me a rainbow, leave me less broken, let this be enough.