Light. When I was 16, I abruptly changed my pink and yellow ruffle and lace bed linens and curtains to black and silver. From wonderland to wasteland in a weekend. I had tossed splotches of black paint on the walls to compare matte versus gloss finishes when my parents returned the paint cans to the hardware store and scheduled me for church counseling to rebuke my newfound love for the dark side. For all of high school, I was somber in black. In college, I took back the night, worked at a coffee bar, partied with Greeks and art geeks, and crammed for finals all in black all the time. Even my hair was dyed blue-black. I think the biggest appeal was how much it annoyed my parents — princess turned goth gargoyle. Like most things from my adolescence, including a spouse and a size 20 waistline, I outgrew it. Now I love natural light. Sunlight sustains, it warms, it pulses and spills around us. Now that I have a daughter who is exiting adolescence and loves her own dark solitude, I am the one doing the nagging and urging towards lilac, lemon yellow, and vanilla sky tones. “Open the curtains,” I tell her. “Come outside and get some sun on your skin,” I say. “Light,” I demand, “let the light in!”
And she listens to me as much as I listened to my mother at that age.