Green. I’ve been thinking about green. I’ve been thinking about green since spring. I’m still thinking about it.
When new leaves grow, they take on the same green. It’s a soft, yellowish green, translucent. The sun shines through this green to make green shadows. Green, blurred, leaf-shaped shadows. I’ve spent years learning and forgetting the names of the leaves in Rock Creek Park, thanks to many woodsy walks with my tree friend Wes (who himself is tree-like in stature, knowledge, and demeanor, although his hair is red, the opposite of green). Right now I can remember and probably identify: beech, black locust, sycamore, black walnut, tulip, sweetgum, dogwood. Poison ivy, Japanese raspberry. Let me tell you the difference between poison ivy and Canadian Honewort and baby boxelder maple. No, there’s no time. There are many more trees with many more leaves. They all begin soft and touchable. They all begin green.
Leaves are green because they hate green. They suck up blue light and red light and what do they leave behind? Green.
My apartment building’s mailroom is green. I learned this for the first time this week. I’ve lived in this building for a year and I didn’t know. The floor tiles are soft as echoes and the walls are painted mint green.
Seth and I went to the Niagara Falls. The water looks green. When it sprays over the sides and catches the light, it’s green. In the river below, green. They gave us blue ponchos, next to people in yellow ponchos. Blue and yellow? Green. They took us on a boat to the bottom of the falls, into the abyss, almost sucked in by a whirlpool. There, it was white. Everything was white. But white contains everything. Including green.
Then we went to East Aurora and ran around four parks. No, five. Green. Green grass, green-mossed rocks. Rusted bronze. Tired legs. Many miles. We forgot the miles. We felt green.
There was a big open field of grass. What color is grass? The grass is always…? And I told Seth he needed to learn how to dance. I love it, he hates it, but he learned with the promise of a backflip. We learned the backflip. He backflipped me. We practiced on the grass in case of a fall. We didn’t fall, but one time my head hit his knee. I saw yellow, the bruise was blue. Kidding, there was no bruise. Just the sky. And at night, fireflies. So many fireflies you couldn’t see them. In the distance, flashes. Fuzzy flashes. Too fuzzy to be green. Surrounded by a dense forest, though, so you knew it was there. The green.
Then there was the wedding, and with the wedding, outfits. Our first outfits were not green. They were nice and fancy. Our second outfits — our dance outfits, our backflip outfits — were rompers. Mine was red, his green.
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota this week, the skies were neon green. There was a storm with hail and massive raindrops, letting through only blue, as the sun was setting yellow. Didn’t I just tell you blue and yellow makes green?
In Europe, this week they decided methane gas is “green.” A piece of clear air. It is causing the greenhouse effect, so.
When the dancing began, out came the rompers. The song was something wedding-y. The dance floor was filled with meanderers. And we ran onto the floor and prepared. We had also learned four additional dance moves so there would be something more than a backflip. But no. We wanted to get into it ASAP. What’s the point of all the buildup? We were there to backflip, so backflip we must. And backflip we did. With ten seconds of prep. Twist left, twist right, sweetheart in, spin out, get in position, and with his left arm beneath my knees and his right shoulder at my chest, I grabbed onto it and leapt, and kept leaping, all the way around, til my feet were on the ground and my head in the air.
The worst part about this backflip is the end. It’s always a little off-kilter and we don’t know what to do. We stand there with our arms raised high and what? Bow? Yes. We bow. Heads to the floor. And when we open our eyes, we see the dance floor is empty. No one is there. They ran away. We scared them away.
The backflip backfired. We wanted to participate. We wanted…
I was running through Rock Creek Park this week. The green has thickened and darkened. The sunlight doesn’t filter through it anymore. It’s green on green on green which makes black. The shadows beneath the canopy are too dark for sunglasses. Suddenly you can’t see. There’s too much green. I was running and suddenly it was like my hand was in a vice. Something stung me. Something I couldn’t see. I held my sunglasses in the stung hand and released them and kept running, running. Three miles from home with a stinging hand. No time to go back for the sunglasses. Every time the wind blew, a needle twisted in my bright red fingertip. What was the bug? I don’t know. Did I run into it, or did it run into me?
By the time I got home, the redness was gone. The pain was gone. The sting was gone. There was no trace of it. This concerned me. I worried about forgetting it. It was important to me to remember the sting. I’m deathly afraid of forgetting all the things that happen in my life. But I did anyway. I forgot, and kept forgetting. I kept reminding myself to remember the bee sting, or wasp sting, or hornet sting or whatever, and then I kept forgetting. Then four days later, it itched beneath my fingerpad where the sting used to be. I woke up in the middle of the night to a massive itch and I scratched and scratched but it didn’t help. The itch was just beneath the skin. I would have to rip off my fingerpad. No more fingerprints. I studied the fingerprint itself in the light of my phone. When I squeezed it, one part turned white, the other turned red, and in the red, I could see it pulse. Have you ever seen blood pulse through your fingertip? It pulses everywhere. It’s life, life yearning to live, like the green of a new leaf.
I let go of my finger and waited for the itch to stop. And I thanked it for making me remember.
PS: Some publishing news: I have a couple author interviews coming out soon about a couple new books. I interviewed Bud Smith about his novel “Teenager” and Nada Alic about her short story collection “Bad Thoughts.” Both authors are funny, caring, and insightful, and have a lot of nice things to say about their stories and the world. If you’re looking for something to read, here you go. Read “Teenager” and “Bad Thoughts.” And tell me what you think. Interviews coming soon.
PPS: Want to learn a dance backflip? It’s easy, honest. We watched this tutorial, which has the added benefit of being hilariously awkward. They wrote “Backflip” on a whiteboard. Why? And GUESS WHAT COLOR SHIRTS THEY ARE WEARING?