When my niece was four, I pretended to hypnotize her. Waving my arms I said, “Think of something that makes you smile.”
“Purple,” she said.
“Not ice cream? Or toys?”
“Purple,” she said again. I understood how she felt.
In the last 16 months I’ve purchased five bicycles. Three were returned, one was sold and the fifth (thankfully!) is here to stay. What made this one special? The smoother gearing? The better fit? The disc brakes? No. The color. It’s orange.
Shortly after moving to NYC in 1997 to become a writer, I feared I’d made a mistake. Overwhelmed and lonely, I contemplated moving back to Massachusetts. Then a childhood friend invited me to visit her in London. After a few days I traveled alone to France, Italy and Spain. That was before cell phones, so it was just me and my journal. I slept in tiny hostels and spent my days exploring. It was daunting at first, but I pushed on, literally, step after step. With just a backpack and a pair of sneakers, I spent three weeks visiting museums, tasting new foods and learning to read maps. Unbeknownst at the time, I was mastering the art of new challenges.
Nearing the end of my trip (along with my 20s), I ventured inside a bazaar off Las Ramblas Street in Barcelona filled with dried fruit, tweeting birds and jewelry. As I munched apricots, I came upon a ring. The starfish reminded me of my childhood on Cape Cod. I had never been big on the color orange, but the way the ring made me feel, I couldn’t pass it up.
Flying home, staring at the ring on my finger, I imagined it to how wearing an engagement ring might feel: excitement for the promise of the future. I returned to The Big Apple transformed, empowered and ready for the challenges ahead.
A few years ago I lost the ring. It had become too big, but I wore it because I was feeling nostalgic. I was saddened, knowing even a replica could never replace it. Then I saw the color orange on a pair of sneakers and was suddenly reminded of the feeling I’d had when I’d first seen the ring. Now the color orange itself is a reminder I can do anything. And that alone makes me smile.
p.s. A day later the ring was found, but I’ve become hesitant to wear it again. I keep saying I’ll go to the jewelers to have it fitted, but something holds me back. Maybe I don’t want to take the chance of having it altered or I just like the “extra” space.