The Color of Privacy

courtesy of

courtesy of

No shy violet for me.  No frilly frou-frou décor.  No baby pastels.  That was my sister, the princess b****.  I was finally getting a room of my own and I intended to stake my claim, make a statement, demand privacy.  So I chose bright fuchsia.  My mother screamed.  “Are you out of your mind!”  My father just shook his head, shrugged and asked if the paint was on sale.

We were not allowed to hang anything on the walls that would make holes.  It was not our house.  It was our parents’ house.  We were also not allowed to lock inner doors.  It wasn’t our house.  It was our parents’ house.  A hot pink room said “Keep Out” better than a sign posted on the door.  No one barged in on me any more – anywhere.  No one dared to cross the threshold into my room.  They were repulsed by the color – especially my brothers.  I finally got some peace, and I didn’t care if it was the smallest room in the house which my brother referred to as ‘the closet’.  I marked my territory – with paint.

I spent the time in my little closet of a room reading, writing and drawing while listening to progressive rock on fm radio, surfacing to watch “Dark Shadows” after school and Monty Python at night on PBS while everyone else slept.

Once I went off to college, my parents wasted no time re-painting the room.  White.  White walls.  White trim.  White curtains.  White bedspread.  They erased all evidence of pink.  The message was perfectly clear:  “This is not your house.”    There are no pictures so that my mother could deny there was ever a hot pink room in her house.

I am not alone in my color choice.  In the neighborhood when lights are on, I’ve seen a house here and there where I have glimpsed a bright pink bedroom – and curtains.  And I smile, knowing there is a tween or teen girl boldly proclaiming her space.  Standing up for herself.  Defining herself.  Someone unafraid of whimsy and having fun.  One of those houses is across the street from me.  I  recently noticed white instead of pink.  Apparently their daughter has grown up and moved out.  The parking situation should have tipped me off.  (But I’ve been busy.)  The parents even wave when they see me outside.  They are happy.  They have reclaimed their house.

I no longer have a bright bold fuchsia bedroom.  No shade of pink at all.  But I still decorate with touches of fuchsia.  A punch of color here and there.  A bit of whimsy.  There’s the photo collage from my visit to Sanibel Island I custom colored with a bright pink mat on the gallery wall display of photos and vacation memorabilia.  And there’s the large heart-shaped glass vase unexpectedly found which I just couldn‘t resist.   There was a bookcase hutch on the side of the road, white with interior fuchsia that I would have hauled away if it hadn’t been so heavy.  Perhaps if I had knocked on the door, the Dad would have offered to deliver it to me.  And among the muted colored ornaments on the Christmas tree, I also include a few shiny bright pink ones – the first ones I bought for myself.


“A great man
is he who never loses
the heart of a child.”

– paraphrased from Mencius

And my inner child speaks bright bold in your face pink.  A dash of whimsy, a bit of fun. And oh so powerful.

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