When I looked up at the sky one fateful day ten years ago, a woman in a long wool skirt and v-neck sweater (trademark of the small private school I attended) said the sky was blue. I thought it looked a bit like the color of the cornflowers I put in my hair come spring. The color above seemed so much more elaborate than a plain, flat blue-colored plane, so I just nodded my head at her answer still thinking cornflower was the way to go that particular morning. Later on in the years I spent wearing gray and blue plaid skirts, I learned a lot of things I nodded to, but disagreed with. The whole fuss of finding the "different" object in our glossy workbooks of knowledge bothered me.
Often I, myself, felt like that square in a line of circles, and I enjoyed it because it was an adventure. I looked at my own scarlet-colored dress shoes on dress-up days, glanced at all the other girls wearing nearly identical black patent leather, and smiled because the color amused me. It was as if I was the only one who understood the beauty of cornflower skies and scarlet shoes. The other girls put an X over me, just like Sister Lilian had us do in our math books when there was a pear in line with a row of apples. I never liked the idea of defacing the object that separated the boring pattern of mass-produced likeness, and it was always a tough chore swallowing down the X over me, but l nodded and did my math, and I nodded and wore the scarlet shoes.
The different viewpoint I had separated me from the other girls and their club behind the big oak tree in the schoolyard. I saw their black patent leather shoes through the years peer out at me, and I longed for company, so I picked up a book of poems one day and made friends with all of the characters with fondness for color who would say that the sky was cornflower, or violet, or something other than the plain flat blue the girls behind the tree saw. And those girls hung out at the malls and their friends' bedrooms, putting on mak-eup and talking about the issues one hears on a weekly TV teen show. I started to make friends with them, nodded to their empty conversation, and found my way home to my room or to the beach outside my house, to sit with my current book to read reverently, thinking in color and saying aloud the fancy words the girls behind the tree never used.
Almost four years have passed since I graduated from that little school and moved on to the huge world of public education. I have found that there are others like me, who see the world painted in different tones and colors. My view of the world continues to expand as I open up to these people and places who each have their story to tell, and a different sky to view.
Soon I'll be done with high school, still wearing my scarlet shoes and gazing into the cornflower sky of my own reality. With my history studies and my memorization of algebraic equations, perhaps I will also carry around something more important than just the knowledge I nodded to and learned in classes. Perhaps I will have retained the desire to touch, taste, and wonder about knowledge, never wanting to deface anything simply because some "educated" person says it doesn't belong. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.