I don’t remember if we made it up or how it came to us or even when it started, though if I think hard about it I get a vague impression of a sunny day, of being outside, maybe in a park, and light coming through the leaves.
But that may have been another day, or some other memory entirely.
In playing I’m Thinking of a Colour, as the title indicates, one of us – either he or I, since we took turns – would (surprise!) think of a colour. One of us would hold a picture of a colour in our head, trying to send it to the other. We’d sit temple to temple, or forehead to forehead, or face to face, or cheek to cheek while playing this game. The contact seemed important. And whoever wasn’t thinking of the colour would try to receive it, would try to let it fill their mind before speaking it aloud. Guessing at it, really, but it didn’t feel like that at the time. It didn’t feel like guessing.
It’s a ridiculous sort of thing to do, really. Thinking back on it, I’m frankly embarrassed. It seems a pathetically romantic and juvenile and optimistic sort of thing to do. And worse, we were totally attached to it. To the game. For a time, we played it all the time. It was exhilarating – how good we were at it. How often, when I would picture green, letting it sprout across my mind, and grow into the gaps and seep into the spaces like so much grass, he would say “green!?” right away. Right away, he’d say “green!?” with a question in his voice and a smile on his face like he knew he was right. He barely seemed to hesitate.
So for a time, it seemed like we were perfect. Right so often that it couldn’t be a coincidence. It had to MEAN something, I thought. Something BIG. And more importantly (much more importantly now that I think of it) was the fact that it seemed to mean something big to him. If he believed in whatever that big thing was, I thought that was the same as his believing something big about me, and at the time, that felt desperately, intrinsically important. That was what I was attached to. The way he saw me. Or the way I wanted him to see me, anyway.
But here’s the truth. Here’s the true truth about about I’m Thinking of a Colour: Yes, we were good at it, if people can be good at such things. For a short time, Matt and I were ridiculously good at that game. When sending each other red, and green, and blue, and yellow, and other simple colours of the sort you see and think about every day without even knowing it, we were amazing. We were good at it in the same way a smart guesser will know that if asked to pick a number between one and ten, most people will go with seven first, three second.
And then we stopped being good at it. Maybe because we were trying too hard – going for turquoise and fuchsia and other unusual colours – thinking ourselved more connected than we were. The goodness just went away.
You have to forgive me for all this, you know. I was sixteen. Maybe seventeen. I make the same sort of stupid mistakes now, they’re just equally age appropriate and seem less embarrassing as a result.
But what was I saying? Oh yes. The truth. I was talking about the TRUE TRUTH about I’m Thinking of a Colour. The stuff I’ve already said is true, of course, but there’s more. The other part of the TRUE TRUTH is that, when our goodness or skill or luck wore off (and it wore off pretty quickly) I began to lie. I began to cheat at I'm Thinking of a Colour.
I wanted Matt to stay with me, and when we started to lose that magic sort of thing we had at the beginning, I wanted to remind him of it. I wanted him to remember to choose me. To see me as unique and special in a way nobody else was. So I cheated. I lied. I pretended he was right when he wasn’t. I don't know why.
No, actually, I suppose I do know why. It’s not like I planned it. That's not what I mean. Cheating at I’m Thinking of a Colour just sort of came over me. I would think green and he would say red, and I’d smile at him and say yes. Because I loved the way he looked at me afterwards. That's why.
I haven’t thought about the colour game for a long time and I don’t know why I write about it here now. Matt sometimes mentions me in his own blog, so I guess I’m allowed (although I know it bothers me when he does it, so this seems hypocritical). He and I don’t speak anymore, of course. Not at all. And that’s always seemed strange to me – to go from cosmically connected to completely divided – but that’s what happens I guess. It happens to everyone. And that’s not why I tell this story.
I joke a lot about Karma, and as a result I’m often asked if I “believe in it”. I don’t, really. I do believe that there’s something to be said for being careful – being actively careful to avoid doing anything that you wouldn’t want done to yourself – but that’s not because of Karma. That’s just because. It just seems like the only fair and right thing to do. Even so, when I think back on the colour game, the true truth of the matter is that I lied. I lied and I lied a lot. Over and over again, over a long period of time. And even when I told myself that I should stop, when the time came, I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. Or didn’t, at any rate.
That’s just true. That’s something I did that I probably shouldn’t have. Maybe it's not a big deal, but I don't think that's for me to say.
This isn’t going anywhere. I’m just meandering along at the moment. I'm Thinking of a Colour came to mind and I hadn’t written in so long so I thought I’d tell you about it. It’s a memory that keeps popping into my mind, and I keep prodding at it like a sore tooth, wiggling it back and forth, going over and over it, feeling for the rough spots in that obsessive way I have, making it bleed.
The year is ending. It’s only days away.