While most of New York’s West Indian population was partying on the Parkway, my very much West Indian mother and I took a trip to Home Depot to look for paint. Though my move away from home has changed some things between us, there are still two universal truths about our relationship: my mother will always make sure I visit home on Sunday mornings and insist that carnival in Brooklyn could never be the same as the one back home.
Before the festivities started, the two of us, in comfy pants and sunglasses, walked down the aisles surrounded by contractors and DIY-ers. The mission was to find a new shade of paint for the living room. Our tranquil green had seemingly grown into an overwhelming beast of continual vomiting. These, of course, were my words not hers. She would never explain why we needed primer to the sales associate that way.
We picked a color in record time. In a whopping 15 minutes, we had gone through all the racks from Behr’s basics to the Martha specialty finishes that I am convinced no human except Martha herself can successfully pull off. We settled for ‘Igloo’ a pale, barely-there grey that would erase any memory of the half spa, half nauseous mixture that we’d picked out years ago when it was in every page of the multitude of home décor magazines.
As my mother debated whether Igloo was enough of a contrast against Powder White, I thought about how hard it is to let go of something that has become familiar. Our surroundings are often our indicators of whether or not we are safe or in harms way. But most times the classification is not that simple. In life, safe is not always a good thing. Sometimes the best thing for us is the dread that comes with floating or falling away.
As we head back to work, to school, to life, we all know we are due to face some familiar things that we should have let go or sent away. Often the only thing that keeps us from fully doing what we know we should is the belief that our fear can overcome us and leave us without the comfort we seek. Zora, always one for needed words, thought years ago about what fear- not about what it could take away, but what it could give in return. She wrote:
“Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear, and fear is the most divine emotion. It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom.”
While there is no primer to put over the things that make you scared, every wall blank or covered with the fears we can’t hide, is a canvas for something beautiful.
Today, stop avoiding your fears and instead confront them and use that boldness to build a strong foundation and a new start.