The tone of blue is the most obvious difference between this house and the rest of the houses on the street. It’s a softer shade, more inviting, less common.
I’ve noticed it for years, but today, the blue stopped me in my tracks. With all the rain we’ve been having, it’s like receiving a gift.
The house of which I speak is a big, blue classic in West Seattle. She is the storybook shade of a robin’s egg — the blue Goethe was after, I bet, when he described blue as a “contradiction between excitement and repose.” I clapped my hands when I read that line.
You could also say the house is the shade of tropical sea, the turquoise on every postcard arriving from Mexico or Hawaii from any number of friends who will do just about anything to flee our bleakest months.
“The gall,” my friend Denise said. “As if any of us want to see sunlight turned up a notch while we are forced to flick on the house lights at 4 in the afternoon.”
I guess she’s right. No one wants to be reminded, quite rigidly (though the cards are meant to convey the opposite), that you cannot afford to dream of turquoise if you have to spend the winter in King County.
Our days are too short to add daydreaming to the list of things we need done before sunset; turquoise is unbelievably far away. Gray is all there is to our seaboard. You can’t see any farther; our days are so completely here, so wrapped up with getting through.
But it’s April, thank God! The first crocus has broken through the soil. Dreamscapes are resurfacing like the trillium we cut back to nothing last fall.
Sometimes, I admit, I stare at the postcards longer than I want to, remembering my own visits to warmer climates, feeling my throat constrict at the thought of swimming in an ocean again, or any place other than the Colman Pool, where the fast swimmers always hog the pool. But what are my choices? No
one can swim in Puget Sound — even in a wetsuit, your lips turn blue.
Swimming takes me in — literally, figuratively. I’ve come to see it as a connection, as satisfying and lush and sensual and intricate as the kind you have with people.
I love it so much, I need to do it. It helps me relate to the world better.
As soon as I’m beneath the surface, it reminds me of the way I want to feel inside: filled with the thrill of total silence.
It’s the only silence anymore, and I need to hear the silence.
Do you remember when silence was easier to find? When, say, walking on the beach would ensure it — how, other than the sound of the waves breaking or the gulls in concert, the anticipation of quiet is what brought you to the shore in the first place? Before cell phones became a way of life, the rest of us forced to listen.
In a perfect world, cell phones would not be allowed on the beach.
MARY LOU SANELLI’s latest book is “Among Friends. “ Visit her website: www.marylousanelli.com.