I love crayons. I loved them when I was small, I loved them when my children were small, and I will love them when my ‘yet to be born’ grandchildren are small. I have always felt that a new box of crayons is symbolic of all that is right with life and the world.
The vibrancy and variety of colors along with pointed tips delight me every time. They’re so pretty, so full of life, so full of potential. As if the crayons know that paper is waiting for each one to come out and fill in the white space with a kaleidoscope of color.
My life is like colors in a crayon box.
Pakistan was the box of primary colors that you get when you’re a child; it’s not a large box but it is magical and full. With colorful mirror work and embroidery, bold patterns and Sindhi rillis, my life began in these primary colors. My childhood filled with light and affirmation, a joyous splash of reds, yellows, oranges and greens.
My entry to the United States was a box of business greys and blacks with occasional patriotic splashes of red, white and blue. I was in Chicago and it was a time of my life where the oranges, yellows, and fuchsias weren’t common. They came only in pairs of two or three when my past life would show up, bringing with it a vibrancy that contrasted with the hard and unyielding crayon colors of black and grey.
When I moved to the Middle East, it was like getting a giant box of 96 crayons with a built-in sharpener. The initial colors were muted; the black of an abaya, the grey of a hijab. But just past the surface were more colors than you could count. While my Pakistani crayon box was my childhood love, my adult love became the crayon box of the Middle East and all its people, sites, smells and sounds.
The Phoenix crayons came in neutrals and desert hues, warm and brown, inviting me to rest awhile in the sun. And rest I did, each day waking up to the beauty of the desert.
I now find my crayon box filled with Central Square in Cambridge. I pass through daily and find that Central Square has no pastels. Rather it is a box of wild and crazy colors with interesting names. There is nothing muted about this crayon box. It is dizzying in its hues and shades.
It’s difficult to imagine my life with any of these crayon boxes missing. Each place has provided a new box and a different picture is colored; each picture unique and specific to the crayons it represents.
What does your life crayon box look like? Is it filled with pastels or primary colors, neutrals or shades of grey? Would love to hear through the comments.