My Great Aunt worked in a photography lab many years ago, when they used to dab in the color by hand. Her job always fascinated me. I’ve always loved black and white photos, especially those photos that are mostly black and white, with just a hint of color. Those photos always left me feeling wistful and nostalgic.
When I was younger, I was fascinated by colorblindness, and extremely jealous of those who got to see the world without color. I really wanted to be colorblind, even if only for a day. Over the course of my life, I’ve had three friends who are colorblind. One mistakenly thought I was a redhead. Another mistakenly thought I was blonde.* The third claimed he could only see bright colors, and was more “color defective” than colorblind. (He also mistakenly thought I was blonde.)
Since people love to have everything that’s wrong with them shoved in their faces, I would hand them random objects and ask them what colors they could see. Most commonly they would answer “beige”. I would point at pictures and ask what colors they could see. Inevitably, the answer would almost always be beige.
What? Beige? In my head, colorblindness sounded lovely and romantic, but in reality, their whole world was beige.
The recent heatwave had me thinking a little bit about this. Quite often, we romanticize things. We think how wonderful life must have been two hundred years ago, when people wrote letters and attended formal dances. We forget that there were no antibiotics, no vaccines, no internet modems, and no air conditioning… That glowy sheen you see in old pictures? That’s not really shine. It’s just sweat.
And we all know the only thing more romantic than sweat is the color beige.
Do you romanticize the past or are you more of a realist?
*Just for the record, I’m a natural brunette, with very Irish coloring. However, my mother-in-law, who is definitely not colorblind, also says I’m blonde. I have no reasonable explanation for this.
** All photos are by Kim Anderson.