In one of my earliest memories, I am staring at two spools of thread.
I don’t know how old I was – maybe three, maybe younger. We were living in the twin house we’d moved into when I was a year and a half old, so no younger than that.
I was downstairs, in the living room. I recall that room having olive green carpets as befit a room in the late 1960s, and that they didn’t go from wall to wall. There was space between them and the walls where I could run my Matchbox cars without having to push them so hard. Or maybe that’s a later recollection. It’s hard to say. Things get so jumbled up with the passage of time.
It was probably a weekend, since I was up and my parents were still asleep. Although I don’t remember my dad being part of this, now that I think of it. I always assumed he was there, but perhaps not. I do remember my mother being there in the house with me. This was before she went back into the workforce, when my brother and I were a bit older, so perhaps it was a weekday after all.
It was early in the morning, at any rate. The sun was up, but at that point I was well into my brief morning-person phase. We had a small black-and-white television that I had learned to turn on by myself, and I’d often wander down before anyone else was up and watch cartoons. The Pink Panther was my favorite, even though I had to take the idea that he was pink on faith. I saw no reason to doubt it.
I think my mom was glad that I’d learned the tv on my own, as that would keep me busy while she slept for a bit longer. When I became a parent I understood the wisdom of that much more clearly. At the time I thought I was getting away with something.
So there I was, in the living room, with two spools of thread.
One of those spools had red thread – a deep, vibrant cherry red. That was my favorite color at the time.
The other had thread of a turquoise blue, rich and saturated, not one of those pale turquoises that had been popular earlier in the decade.
I remember deciding that I liked that blue better than the red.
This seemed a momentous thing at the time, something that required careful deliberation and thought, changing your favorite color like that. Favorite colors had seemed permanent, immutable, inherent parts of life up until that time.
But there it was – the red was not as appealing as the turquoise. There was no doubt about it. The evidence was there, and the received truth would just have to change to accommodate it.
I went up to my parents’ room, where my mother was sleeping, and woke her up to deliver this grave news. To her credit, she simply said that this was fine by her and went back to sleep.
It’s still my favorite color.
And the lesson that received wisdom must fall before new evidence has stayed with me ever since.
That’s a lot of weight to hang by such a pretty blue thread.