“We’re Kennedys. We’re Irish. Our color is green. That’s why our living room is green. It’s our favorite color.”
I listened. Everything he said to me was a gateway to the world. A gateway to identity. Everything they — mom and dad — said and knew was the TRUTH. What they knew was my key to the BIG REALITY.
“Why don’t you go over and see what Loralee and Lorinda are doing? Maybe you can play.”
“OK.” I went out the back door, across the back yard, out the gate, across the alley, over to Lorinda’s house. I found them in the sandbox.
They were a year older than I. They intimidated me a little. A lot. I was pretty shy.
“Can I play?”
“What’s your favorite color?”
“Green.” The sand began to fly into my face.
“Our favorite color is pink, nyah, nyah, nyah. You can only play with us if your favorite color is pink and it’s green.”
I went home crying.
“What happened?” my mom asked.
I told her.
“You shouldn’t let people hurt your feelings, and if they do, you should keep it to yourself.”
“Go take a nap. I’ll come and wake you up.”
I did. A little while later my mom came and got me. She took me out to the garage where she’d made a playhouse with my table, my dolls, my tea set. “Play with your dolls, honey,” she said.
“I’m going to go get Loralee and Lorinda and show them.”
“Don’t do that. Just play by yourself. You need to learn to play by yourself.”
“But I want them to see it,” I said, and I was out the door.
Within minutes of their arrival, they had torn up all my mom’s labor of love. My feelings hurt even more than before, I cried and asked her to make it again.
“No. I told you to play by yourself and I told you not to go running over to tell them about it,” she said and went into the house.
There were so many lessons in what had to have been no longer than an hour — if that. I cannot possibly enumerate them all here. And, among them were lessons I learned over and over again in my life because they, somehow, went against the basic grain of my personality.
Green. It wasn’t easy being green.