The Color of Cream

Years ago, when S lived in Minneapolis, I went to visit — and we went together to the Science Museum of Minnesota.

If you haven’t been there, it’s a really wonderful museum (this is me being a tour guide for a second).

But also — while we were standing in the lobby of this museum — S said to me — “Mom — I remember when we used to go the the St Louis Science Center…” (another great museum — we used to go quite often when the kids were little — sometimes every week).

“What do you remember from that museum, , I asked S? You were five years old when we left St. Louis.”

“I don’t remember specific exhibits in the museum,” they told me — “but I remember how the museum made me feel.”

“The museum was for kids like me — and I felt as though I belonged.”

For me — as a parent — this was a huge moment. Number one: OMG I did something right in my parenting.

And number two — I had no idea how much I had impacted this child by giving them a place where they were so inspired and had such a strong sense of belonging.

And recently I have begun to personalize this a bit — to wonder what had inspired me.

We were at dinner last night and I noticed that the iced tea was the most amazing pale topaz — and I have been noticing that the cream which comes in the red carton is just the most inspiring color of cream — almost the same hue of cream of the London Business School buildings in Regency Park which made me swoon (and still does, in my memory — years later).

When was it in my formative years that I was in a place where it felt perfect to me? I cannot stop thinking about the ‘happenings’ that we attended at the local public library. ‘Happenings’ were multimedia presentations — where a plethora of things were happening all around you at the same time. Those were certainly stimulating and inspiring — and I still think about them fifty-five years later.

But I especially remember that there was one store on Dempster Street called That Paper Place.

I went there more than a few times with my mother. There one could find lucite boxes and papers all colors. I must have been six years old but I still think about this place. It was exemplified the ‘mod’ era of the 1960’s to me. It was fabulous. I did not know at that time that color would make my heart race with excitement at that age — and I would not realize that even for decades afterwards.

I remember though that this place made me feel joy.

Like the color of the cream – it made me swoon.

At that time in my life — I felt that if I could only have one of those acrylic boxes — if only I could hold it up to the light and see the color through it — and if I could do that with a few of the colors — those transparent colors — then all would be right in the world.

I remember now that when I was in college I was collecting gels — the clear colored filters which went on stage lights. It gave me so much pleasure to hold them up to the light and look through them.

I began to collect gels – and mylar – and colored plastic boxes. If for no reason than to have them. On my table right now I have multiple bottles of children’s bubbles – which give me pleasure not only for their contents – but for the differently-colored clear bottles.

Now,at this point of my life — I see color ways everywhere. In the limoncello and mandarino I made this summer — I hardly drink but I adore the colors. Making a liquor from basil — the basilico — is R’s favorite to drink — but for me — I make it for the color.

For S — there is a word for the child grown to adult who was so inspired and curious about science: a scientist.

For me — for someone who feels as though they could jump up and down — even at this stage of life — in excitement — not just to see the swans of Regency Park — but to see the color of the exterior paint of the buildings — I think folks call someone like me —- a nerd — an eccentric. Or — just — eyes wide open.

















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