My best friend in Kindergarten was a girl named Carrie.
Together, we conquered the uncharted mysteries behind every bush; literally. We were the wild explorers. It was our duty to navigate through every garden, and build fairy houses all over her backyard. She was the leader, and I was the follower who had all the creative ideas to accomplish her goals.
We had an ongoing joke about our leadership clashing. We both were too creatively independent to take orders, and rarely managed to survive an hour without a minor dispute.
Unfortunately my strongest memory of us was sitting in the classroom, drawing. She had always been the most inspirational when armed with a soft pencil. So she pulled out her shades of grey, and I grabbed my colored markers. She might be sophisticated, but I had color.
We were sitting in our own little worlds, pouring out ideas only we could understand. I was thinking about my favorite people, so I began to draw my family.
I drew them as I saw them, as best I could with my young fingers. Then I added myself. I drew myself in the middle because I considered myself the middle. I was the oldest of two, and younger than by both my parents. Therefore, I was the middle.
I drew myself as only I knew how. I drew my hair with both yellow and brown, because there was no color for my odd reddish blond brown. I drew strait lines down the body, in shorts and a tanktop because thats what I always wore. I saved the best, drawing my rosy red cheeks large and lush across my face.
She turned to breath criticism onto my drawing. She asked my why I drew cheeks. They weren't lines. I looked at her face because I didn't have a mirror, and saw pale. There was no rosy red. I had drawn myself wrong. That day I went home and examined myself in the mirror. I did have really red cheeks. My drawing wasn't wrong. I was wrong. My body wasn't sopposed to be so red.
As I grew older, this thought was only further implanted as I was exposed to the "right" way to look. In supermarket checkout isles, magazines stole my confidence. Movies that girls were sopposed to treat as the bible, displayed a suppressed moral. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, perfect pale faces smiled back coldly. I interpreted their cold looks as my fault. I didn't deserve a real smile from a magazine cover, or a pretty girl at school. I had to change to be like them.
I fell into the consumeristic world. I thought by buying the right products, chemicals could fix my flushed puffy face. I applied dollars to my face intended to quell the "anger". But it didn't work. My face remained overheated, and now it was not only incorrect to be this way, but stuborn. This only fueled my desire to turn it to normal.
My face couldn't be fixed. Extra products and obsession did nothing. I learned to worry about other things. I could channel my inner hatred towards my weight, or my hair. I didn't need to hate something that couldn't be fixed.
Then one day I wonderful woman changed my life. I was sitting in a cafe, chatting with a friend, and a stranger approached me. She gazed apon my face with longing. I was confused.
"My goodness!" She gushed, "I've never seen such a person so full of life!"
Of course I was flattered, but I had no idea why she would ever say such a thing. What caused this mentality? I looked up into her red face so full of smile wrinkles.
"Redness is a sign of life. It means you know how to live with soul." She disappeared down the street, but her words lingered until I realized their truth.
I finally understood, when I ran into Carrie on the street one snowy morning. She belonged in a magazine. She was the right kind of pretty to snap photos of to scare girls like me. She gave me a tight smile, and a hug where arms touch, but not hearts.
My face was red. "More than usual," she added coldly, and proceeded to tell me all the benefits of working in cosmetics. She got to help unbalanced people like me, become glowing people like her.
But looking at her in the cold, she wasn't glowing. She wasn't flushed with sunset colors. She was pale like snow and draining life.
She walked away, content to have someone so lowly to compare herself to. But I realized it was the only thing she could compare herself to. She had a lovely exterior, but her soul was snowflakes.
I looked at her retreating pale figure walking along the snow covered streets. As she disappeared with distance, I thought of her fading in life as well. The heart was red. The heart pumped blood to allow life to live. Blood was red. Blood pulsed beneath the skin. When the body died, the passion died, and the body turned redless. She was pale; she was passionless. Her heart had died.
I knew my bronze skin stood out if she bothered to turn around. My skin pulsed with life, and stood out against the blank ground. My body fought to maintain passion. I realized I loved my life. I did more than sit behind a chemically counter diagnosing flaws. It occurred to me my red was a blessing. I didn't have to loose my internal life to find passion. I already had it. In that moment, I understood how to drop my self made snow chains. I was allowed to love and find passion. I didn't have to kill my red, to find my heart.