Misty Memories. That’s the Benjamin Moore color I chose after splotching the wall with subdued colors in the room that once held my husband’s guitar equipment and old tax file boxes. I was claiming the space. A room of my own, as Virginia Woolf would have it. Misty Memories is a faint lavender, just shy of gray, with a hint of the miniature pink rose bushes that lined the circle driveway of a childhood home, the one the bank took over.
Purple. Lilac. Boysenberry. Plum. Magenta. Violet. The last color on the rainbow.
Purple is also the color of the seventh chakra, the crown chakra, a spindle of energy that connects your body to the heavens. And there is indeed something heavenly about lilacs and purples. I wore a lavender Faire Isle sweater in my sophomore year high school photo, with blush and lip gloss that matched Phoebe Cates’ look on a 1980s Seventeen Magazine cover I cherished. That sweater cost two whole paychecks from Bedients’ hardware store where I clerked for a summer.
I imagine that when I die people might call me that ‘ole Purple Lady with the bangles and beads prattling affirmations as she walked along the fence at the end of the drive. And that would be me, the Purple Lady.
The Misty Memories takeover room served me well for over a decade. The century old windows, set with poured glass, illuminated a dappled glow whenever the sun appeared, like you might find in a small chapel hidden in some sacred forest. It was the room where I sat with my clients handing out tissues or an essential oil, sharing a belly laugh or offering a hug on their way out. It was the room where I ignored my little girls when trying to meditate for just 5 minutes please.
It was the room I was in when my husband hesitantly knocked on the door in the middle of a client session, to my dismay. He just stood there staring at me, his eyes beginning to well. Oh my god, one of the girls? I raised my hand to my face as my heart seized. He shook his head. No. No. Your father.
First came relief. Then the recognition that the man I had finally forgiven was gone.
History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.~John Dalberg-Acton
We moved from that house, leaving behind two decades of family life, experiences that can only survive in the recesses of our unique recollections, and in ways that photos can’t capture. Like the presence of our house ghost, Ms. Margaret Sutermeister, nicknamed Daisy, according to a Historical Society booklet. She was one of the reasons I fell in love with the house at the base of Blue Hills, an anti-establishment hobby photographer in the 1850s who depicted the landscapes and daily life of dark skinned farmhands and the Massachusee descendants who weren’t wiped out from scarlet fever in the 1600s. Just the kind of spirit I wanted watching over my daughters.
“There’s Daisy,” I’d say when the floorboards creaked in a Nor’easter. Or, when we heard the eerie squeals of Chimney Swifts, who decided to nest in an old cooking chimney. It was as if Daisy invited in these the strange birds who swarm the Eastern skies at dusk for a few days respite, allowing them a launchpad to join the earth’s windstream toward the next southerly rest stop. She understood that climate change threatened their routes.
Creating safe space is an act of love
Of course, I brought the tattered Benjamin Moore paint chip with me. We’re in a tired rental for the time being. You can guess what color I painted the one room I claimed. Misty Memories, blessedly, has not been discontinued.
I ask you to think about what token or talisman, image or memory you hold dear.
How might you honor the gift it gave you? Misty Memories conjures safeness and spirit for me. And it’s not that I need to carry the old paint can with me, or cling to the paint card to heaven knows where I land next. It’s the understanding that creating a safe space is an act of love. It’s a kindness I allow for myself.
- So dear one, what is it that you can behold in your mind’s eye, or in the clutch of your heart, simply because it once befriended you and served you so well? Or, still does?
- And how might you carry that inner resource with you wherever you go? What nook, corner, or spot can you claim just for yourself, even if it’s inside your own heart?
Sign Up for 21 Days of Kindness.
Get A Little Deck of Kindfulness while supplies last (US shipping only).
Photo by Tara Cousineau (2021)