Memoir Contest Winner: Army Green by Robin Dake

by Matilda Butler on August 18, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #115 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Kendra and I are pleased to publish ARMY GREEN by Robin Dake. Robin’s memoir vignette received an honorable mention in our Women’s Memoir March Memoir Writing Contest–Reflections on Green, Difficult Memories category. Congratulations Robin

ARMY GREEN

by Robin Dake

I wonder now if it was the green necklace that finally pushed me over the edge.

It was wrapped in a beautiful box and lay nestled in crisp tissue paper. It was made of beaded strands, all individually hand arranged to make a unique and pretty piece of art to wear on one’s neck. And it was army green.

I stared up at my husband as he smiled watching me open the gift. It was a gift to celebrate his new job, another new job. Something small snapped inside and for once, I could not let the inappropriate gift be acknowledged with pretend happiness.

“I hate this color,” I said simply and closed the box.

Green and I have always had a love/hate relationship. It is a color I want to like, but can’t blindly embrace because there may be not enough blue or too much yellow and then it doesn’t work for me. It is a color that is much like some of the relationships in my life — swirling and complicated, shifting from positive to negative with a just a few shade variances.

Kelly green, hunter green and soft mint-ice cream green are my friends while army green especially curls my lip and makes me turn my head.

As a child, my mother, in some kind of daring moment of parenthood, allowed me to pick the new color of my bedroom walls. I chose screaming bright Kelly green. It was the kind of green that should be measured in tablespoons, but I wanted my entire room doused in it. My mother — bless her — went along with it and did her best to offset the brightness with decorative yellows and whites.

I brought green into my life in other ways too while I was young. I chose a green halter for my beloved horse. I remember lying on my back under dappled trees, fascinated by the varying shades of green the sun turned the leaves. And when I got married, the bridesmaids wore hunter green dresses with matching shoes.

On the flip side, the only color I detest is army green. I find nothing stirring or stunning about it. Strange, for a woman raised surrounded by it. My family on my father’s side is steeped in Army. Our family lore regaled at holidays is about serving in the military and glory of the Army. I wonder if that turned me from the color, or do I just not like it.

It took me some time to articulate this dislike. For a long time it was just a disquiet when I looked at it, a kind of internal off-centerness. When I finally could verbalize how I felt, I told my husband clearly that I did not like that color. He kept buying me things that included it – jewelry, clothes, even dishes. Each time, it irritated me and each time he said he forgot.

That day with the necklace was just another example.  When I relayed the story to a friend, he said, “I wonder why he keeps doing that?”

It was then I realized these moments of forgetting I don’t like army green weren’t really mistakes, but rather moments of passive-aggressive needling. It was purposely not honoring my feelings and aggressively annoying me with smiles and gifts. It was one of many things that were off-centered about our relationship.

When I closed that box with the green necklace, I think something in me closed too, something that once accepted this needling or the other things that were wrong between us. Somewhere deep down, I knew that the urge in him that needed to irritate me wouldn’t stop and the urge in me that didn’t like it wouldn’t give in.

Two years later, when our divorce was final, I got rid of all that green stuff and felt very clear about what I liked and didn’t like. I surrounded myself with blues and reds and soft browns. And I began looking toward a future where I would know clearly how I want to be treated and what colors I want in my life.


memoir-logo-bar




 

Leave a Comment

Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category