This, I Covet
“You remind me of the color blue,” I said once to my friend, Jaimie, whose name even now makes me feel blue—not sad, but the color. I feel its quiet protection like a quilt wrapped around my body at 3am as I sit on the couch, unable to sleep, the blue light from the TV glowing.
I go home to visit my parents. I sit on my mother’s bed and stare into her closet. All of her clothes are blue: blue jeans, blue blouses, blue shoes.
My lover’s eyes are like the ocean in the early morning, just as the sun is rising. Not bright and not dark, but light and unquiet. Too complex for brightness. The oceans, his eyes, make no misconceptions about their depth, the abyss below waiting to swallow me whole.
Blue is not my favorite color. It is not even in my top three. I prefer dark shades of purple and green and red. Why does anyone prefer one color over the other anyway?
He and I are in Prague, at town center, when we see four weddings in fewer than two days. I notice once that one of the brides looks frantic, like a child lost in a store without a parent; she is looking for someone. It is cold and grey, and she is wearing thick white tights under her gown. I slow my gait and notice she has full hands, carrying a rusted pocket-watch, a shiny red apple, a man’s sock, and a blue scarf. People are everywhere: walking fast and slow, standing by the clock-tower and water-fountain taking photos. The air is thick with the smell of cinnamon and sugar, sausage and cigarette. The hoards make me anxious, and I tighten my grip on his hand, keeping my eyes on his head above the others; he is my compass, and I know I am not lost.
When a hurricane approaches, my mother urges me and my partner to come stay with her and my father. “You guys can sleep in the Blue Room, we’ll even have dad put my TV in there.”
For my birthday, years ago, my mother ordered hand-embroidered handkerchiefs for me. I always preferred things of old over new: rotary phones, pocket-watches, cuckoo clocks. One of the hankies had the words Mother of the Bride delicately stitched in silver cursive. Another, a light blue one, read Beautiful Bride in crisp white stitching.
Some of the walls in the apartment I rent are painted steel blue so I have been forced to purchase blue items—dish towels, rugs—in similar shades. How many things will I have by the end of this?
“I only have two packages of blueberries left so I’m going to Costco now. When I went on Monday, I got three cases and I knew I should’ve gotten more, damn it.” My mother has been eating up to four pounds of blueberries everyday for over a year now. You think I’m exaggerating; you think this is where I am executing the creative function of creative nonfiction, but ask anyone: the people at Costco or Publix, where she’s called Blueberry Lady; ask my father who calls me, confused, almost concerned, “Emily, I’ve never seen anything like it. This can’t be normal”; even better, come with me to my parents’ house one day, and I will open the fridge and show you the boxes upon boxes of blueberries she keeps stacked on the shelf between the Diet Coke and bottles of water.
My mother’s eyes are blue. As a child, I wanted blue eyes like hers. All my dolls had blue eyes. But I have eyes like my father: hazel with green and brown and blue. A little bit of my mother snuck in there.
I don’t know if she remembers those handkerchiefs or if she cares that I don’t want to be married. They are in a clear plastic bin, with my teenage notebooks and other belongings in the closet in the Blue Room, where they will probably remain forever.
Suddenly: it is everywhere. The flowers wreathing edelweiss on your favorite coffee mug, the tiles on your balcony, out of your partner’s mouth when he asks: “what shade blue would you call our building?” We deliberate: not sky, not baby, not periwinkle or teal. I say powder. He says, “No, the Chargers uniforms are powder blue; this is not powder blue.” He is always so sure; this, I covet.
Emily Jalloul is a Lebanese-American MFA candidate in poetry at Florida International University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Gravel, Juked, Origins, The FEM, among others. She lives in Miami, Florida.