A couple of days before my brother proposed to his girlfriend, I texted him to ask what her favorite color is. I wanted to send them engagement gifts in time for the big question and wasn’t sure what color to pick for hers.
He texted back, “Green (I think, double checking).”
I started to text back, “No wait! If you don’t know, you don’t want to ask outright!” But I didn’t. After all, I wouldn’t get upset if my husband didn’t know my favorite color. Actually, I was pretty sure he didn’t. I couldn’t remember us ever talking about it, and if we had it’d been years earlier. We’d known each other 9 years before we started dating, after all. We simply didn’t have as many of the expected “get to know you” conversations in our remembered past.
So I looked at my husband and said, “My favorite color’s red. I don’t expect you to have known that.”
His ears hadn’t been ready to listen, and I hadn’t given any context, so he asked me to repeat myself and then asked a couple of clarifying questions. Once done, he said thoughtfully, “I wouldn’t have guessed that.”
“I didn’t think so,” I told him. I don’t use it in decorating or wear a lot of red or anything. “But I wanted to tell you.” Then I asked, “What’s your favorite color?”
“Okay,” I answered. “That’s what I would have guessed.”
The summer after I graduated from high school, my youth minister, his wife, and our head pastor took as many graduates from the church as wished to go (as I remember, there were 3 or maybe 4 of us) to a lake in TN for a long weekend. As we played cards after dinner the first night, one of my fellow grads sat forward.
“I want to confess something,” she announced, loud enough to attract the entire’s room’s attention.
We weren’t from a denomination where confession is done publicly or in a structured time/place, so no one seemed to know quite what to do.
“My whole life,” she continued after a moment, her face rapturous, “whenever someone’s asked what my favorite color is, I’ve said green. But really, it’s blue.”
The room fairly erupted into laughter and applause.
She hurried to explain, “Everyone always says their favorite color is blue, and I didn’t want to be like everyone else, so I said green. But it’s really blue.”
The adults fanned their faces and sagged with relief into their chairs. “I thought this was going to be something serious!” one exclaimed.
“Well,” said my friend, still in a very good mood, “it is. I’ve always known the truth about myself but I didn’t share it. And we’re talking about who we want to become when we go to college. I just want to be more myself, and have the confidence to say what’s true even if it’s the same as everyone else.”
I, meanwhile, did a gut check of my own favorite color. It’s red, isn’t it? I questioned, searching my feelings as I outwardly applauded. Yup. Definitely red. I didn’t have a cool revelation to share and shock everyone—which held a measure of appeal to me—but I knew my favorite color.
My brother soon texted back, “Her favorite color is blue and I sense I’m in a teensy bit of trouble.”
“Uh oh!” I answered. “Tyler didn’t know mine either if that helps.”
Except, now I’m wondering.
I just picked out colors for a wedding and a whole registry worth of household items. How much red had I chosen? I looked up from my brother’s texts and studied the room: a Christmas pillow on the armchair, the wreath on the door, the tree skirt. That was about it. The watercolors I’d bought for our home didn’t include red. Our quilt was mostly purple with stripes of neutrals and bold colors in the same palate. Our dinnerware wasn’t red. The clothes I’d bought that fall included 2 red sweaters, but I had many more neutral sweaters, and my closet hadn’t felt complete without a purple one. I never pushed for red towels and I’d originally planned to change the red, grey, and white shower curtain in one of the bathrooms, but it grew on me.
So how do I feel about red?
I still get a zip from it. The 2 red stripes on the quilt. Red cars. Red Christmas accents. My Atlanta United jersey. My car.
In general, I find red more imposing than I used to, and than I prefer. I don’t want to see red walls or red linens every day for the whole year. No red drinking glasses. No red towels. No red coats or art. A friend chose red as her accent color for her winter wedding, and I liked it, but I was glad I’d chosen sapphire blue, with a little peachy pink for variety.
What colors am I preferring these days? I looked around again. My coat, favorite long and short-sleeve shirts, much of the quilt, and new journal are all purple. Our towels, koi watercolor prints, cooler, bridesmaid dresses, bouquets, new cell phone, and favorite highlighter are all blue.
I don’t know that all this constitutes a change in my official favorite color. I don’t have to decorate with or wear a color for it to be my favorite. But I also know I’m not the same person I was as a child and teen and high school graduate. Gratefully so. It’s conceivable that one’s favorite color might change. And maybe that’s the case with me.
Why am I think about all this? It’s a new year. And at a new year, I tend to evaluate myself and my life. What’s working for me? What would I like to build differently or new this year? What do I know about myself that I didn’t a year ago? Some years I think about shoes, some years I think about colors. And, since I’ve been sick with a bad sinus infection since NYE, missing days of work on top of the holidays I already had off, I’ve had a lot of time to look around my apartment and wonder.