And it was all yellow

Off the Beat

On a typical day, I’m pretty hard to miss on campus: I’ve got my bright yellow backpack on, my phone in my hand with its bright yellow case, and — if it’s a particularly early morning — I’m clutching my bright yellow coffee tumbler. I’ll probably be swinging my keys around on a sparkly yellow lanyard. I’ve been dubbed a “walking lemon” for my less-than-subtle ensemble.

As I write this, a tab’s sitting open on my computer to a page with lemon yellow Converse. I’ve been waffling back and forth on whether to take the plunge and buy them — they don’t really fit with most of my wardrobe, but boy, are they pretty.

I’m not really sure where this obsession with yellow came from. When I was about a year old, my parents got me a set of plastic hoops in all the colors of the rainbow. According to my mom, I would happily trade different colored hoops with my parents while keeping an iron grip on the yellow pair. And you know those plastic cups and bowls from IKEA that come in all sorts of colors? If someone inadvertently picked up the yellow cup or the yellow bowl, I would throw a hissy fit just to get it myself.

Around the time I learned to walk, my parents decided to visit Shenandoah National Park in the frigid Virginia winter. My mom splurged on a puffy coat for me in — you guessed it — sunshine yellow, which I wore religiously for months afterward. A few years later, my mom and I took a trip to India, where my grandparents had bought me a dress in the most gorgeous yellow-gold silk. As memory serves, I wore that dress long after I had noticeably outgrown it.

When I was nine, my parents decided to redecorate the house, which included repainting the walls in my room. I’d wanted this for a long time — most of my friends had pleasant purples or blues on their walls, and I thought it was the perfect way to personalize my own space. So of course, when they took me to Home Depot to pick out swatches, I promptly selected the shade of yellow that most resembled a Meyer lemon. My parents tried to coax me into selecting a soft pink or a light blue, but my stubborn self was dead set on that yellow. That color stayed on my bedroom walls until I moved out for college.

I’ve amassed a lot of yellow-colored things in my life, although I still can’t quite put into words why I’m so intent on surrounding myself with that color.

Some studies have correlated yellow with inducing stress and anxiety. Several of my friends consider “my” yellow (that bright lemon yellow) to be overwhelming. For a short period, I tried to pick a new favorite color, thinking that yellow was just too weird for people to comprehend. I had a run-in with cerulean, then an army green phase, and even a brief burnt orange intrigue at one point.

But that yellow fills me with a calming feeling of warmth and comfort, something I can’t quite find in any other color. Yellow reminds me of the turmeric my mom sprinkles into all of her excellent home-cooked Indian dishes, or in the warm turmeric milk she’d give me when I fell sick. It brings me back to nights at my family’s apartment in Virginia, when my mom would dance around the living room with me, wearing a light yellow t-shirt and flowy skirt after a long day of research.

It reminds me of the tens of hundreds of times my brother and I built LEGO houses together and fought over who got to play with the fun figurines. It was the color of the blanket that my sister was wrapped in when we welcomed her home from the hospital for the first time (my choice!). It’s the color I remember my dad wearing to several of my karate exams when I was a kid, cheering me on in his own quiet way.

While yellow’s not really the color I would use to describe my personality — I’ve always thought of myself as pretty calm, cool and collected — it’s certainly the color I’d use to paint the world I live in.

I think I’ll go ahead and buy those Converse after all.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the fall semester’s regular opinion writers have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.